Slimy Sawflies! - Observation of the Week, 1/11/22

Our Observation of the Week is this group of sawfly larvae (potentially in the genus Caliroa), seen in Germany by @ingrid_kulozik!

Ingrid Kulozik traces her interest in nature back to her childhood. Her parents took her on hikes, and she remembers her elementary school teacher collecting wildflowers with her class and teaching them their names. “Soon I bought my first plant identification book and used it with enthusiasm,” she says.

As a teenager, I was active in the youth group of the “Bund Naturschutz” in Bavaria: I mapped trees or helped rescue toads along roads at night.

My studies in landscape ecology gave me deeper insights into the diversity, interrelationships, and interactions in nature. But back then, 45 years ago, I also became very painfully aware of the vulnerability of our planet to human intervention.

This dichotomy continues to this day: on the one hand the amazement, the enthusiasm about colors, forms, strategies, and adaptations in nature, on the other hand the great sadness and fear about biotope destruction and species loss.

For the past two decades, Ingrid has been working as an environmental educator, “trying to awaken curiosity and enthusiasm for nature in as many people as possible and to pass on knowledge.”

Last June, Ingrid visited her daughter in Berlin and checked out several nature preserves, like the NSG Baumberge, which has a mix of grasslands, dunes, and forest, and where she saw this group of sawfly larvae on an oak tree. 

There I could make some exciting observations: A blue-winged grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens), an impressive sand wasp (Bembix sp.), and an antlion (Myrmelon formicarius) that moved forward through the sand at great speed. I discovered the Caliroa larvae on an oak tree and at first could not identify them at all, but was fascinated by the shared strategy and effectiveness of the larvae in eating the oak leaf.

Sawfly larvae, as Ingrid noted, often feed gregariously, which is believed to be a defensive behavior. Larvae in the genus Caliroa are also coated with slime, making them distastful. Nearly all sawfly larvae are herbivorous and, when ready to pupate, usually drop off the plant and pupate in the soil. Adults lack the narrow “waist” of most other hymenopterans and they generally feed on nectar. Adult females have a saw-like ovipositor for laying eggs in plants, and their common name is derived from that anatomical adaptation.

Ingrid (above, with Origanum vulgare plants in her garden) joined iNaturalist in 2021 but had been photogtraphing bees in her garden since 2018, when she joined a citizen science project (now collected here).  

Throughout the summer I photographed bees, tried my hand at identifying them, and was able to discover about 50 species in my garden alone. Since then, I mainly photograph insects and make them available on different platforms. Especially during the pandemic, when I could not work in environmental education, this was a very fulfilling occupation for me. Since then, my attention to detail and my sense of wonder continue to grow.

iNaturalist is a great help for me when identifying species I cannot identify myself. I also find it interesting whether and where the species have already been observed in my vicinity. In addition, I have been able to make some nice contacts through iNaturalist. I am impressed by the large number of experts who make their gigantic knowledge and a large part of their time available. The many people working together here give me encouragement and hope not to be alone in my efforts to protect biodiversity.

(A big thank you to @jtklein​ for help with translation. Some quotes have been lightly edited by me for clarity. Photo of Ingrid was taken by Ulrich Kulozik.)

- A Trichiosoma triangulum sawfly larva, seen by @kiwikiu, was an Observation of the Week in 2021!

- This iNaturalist observation by @alainhogue might be the first documenation of an Elm Zigzag Sawfly in North America. Here’s an audio interview about the find.

Publicado el 11 de enero de 2023 a las 10:50 PM por tiwane tiwane


What a special observation! Sawflies can be such funny things.

Anotado por edanko hace más de un año

Wow, very cool! I never would've guessed those were sawflies.

Anotado por zdanko hace más de un año

I also had ever observed similar sawflies on Broussonetia papyrifera!

Anotado por lulucat hace más de un año

Sawflies and their larvae are fascinating little monsters!

Anotado por susanhewitt hace más de un año
Anotado por ivonnegarzon hace más de un año

Añade un comentario

Entra o Regístrate para añadir comentarios