This resource has been assembled to assist with the identification of British sawflies. It primarily attempts to create a ‘virtual museum collection’ by featuring good photographs of pinned specimens and their details. The specimens used have been sourced from some of the finest sawfly collections in Britain, notably those of the Natural History Museum, London, Oxford University Museum, and the Liverpool World Museum, and I am very grateful to these institutions. I have also used specimens from my own ever-growing collection, especially where fresh and unfaded material is available (sawfly specimens are notorious for fading and losing the bright greens and red colours featured in life).
Coverage of the non-Tenthredinidae families and certain genera from the Tenthredinidae is almost comprehensive and includes some very rare species and important specimens, some of which have not been available to view online before. I will continue to visit collections and collect specimens to expand coverage. If you have any specimens I can photograph to help plug gaps or improve existing coverage, feel free to contact me. Photographs of pinned specimens are augmented by photographs of living eamples where I have these to hand. In a few instances I have been given permission to plug gaps with photographs taken by others. I am very grateful and the photographers are clearly cited in the photo caption.
Once in a species ‘album’ you can click on the ‘Show more’ tab just below the species name to obtain a drop-down species account which summarises what I have been able to glean for each species. The species account provides information to help you diferentiate the individual species and highlights some of the challenges associated with certain species groups or genera. At the bottom of each species account there is a hyperlink to the equivalent species account in the British and Irish Sawflies website, which provides national maps. If I have managed to find a reliable photo of a larva online, I have also provided a hyperlink to this.
If you click on the individual photos, they will become larger (like the zoom on a microscope, with 2 expansions possible in the highest resolution photos) and will reveal useful details such as surface sculpture and punctures that can be important for species-level identification. I have also included photographs of known foodplants and known locations as these could help recorders who want to target certain species.
Two important sources of information and advice on British sawflies include:
The British and Irish Sawflies website - operated by the UK Sawfly Recording Scheme - provides the latest national maps: www.sawflies.org.uk/
The British and Irish Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/British-and-Irish-Sawflies-(Symphyta)-408749309504332/
Published keys to the British sawfly fauna include the following:
Benson, R. B. (1951) Hymenoptera. Symphyta Section (a). Royal Entomological Society, downloadable here: www.royensoc.co.uk/sites/default/files/Vol06_Part02a.pdf
Benson, R. B. (1951) Hymenoptera. Symphyta Section (b). Royal Entomological Society, downloadable here:
Benson, R. B. (1958) Hymenoptera. Symphyta Section (c). Royal Entomological Society, downloadable here:
The first of these is updated by Quinlan, J. & Gauld, I. D. (1981) RES Handbook for the Identification of British Insects Vol. VI Part 2(a) which is not currently downloadable.
Wright, A. (1990) British Sawflies – a key to the adults of genera occurring in Britain. Field Studies 7: 531-593. Field Studies Council (AIDGAP).
Further online resources include the following:
A Checklist of the British and Irish Sawfly species by Liston et. al (2014): bdj.pensoft.net/articles.php?id=1168
Sawfly larvae of Britain & Ireland Flickr Group: www.flickr.com/groups/sawfly_larvae_bi/
Mike Hackston’s keys: sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeyshymenoptera/Home/hym... which are generally more up-to-date than the Benson ones but only cover limited groups to species level.
D & JP Balmer Flickr site which has lots of useful photos and keys for the French sawfly fauna: www.flickr.com/photos/d-jp-balmer/
Further keys and resources covering individual genera ae listed in the home page for the various genera.