Redheaded Pine Sawfly larva (Neodiprion lecontei), at the Thomas Winget Park in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Redheaded Pine Sawfly is native to North America and occurs throughout the eastern United States west to the Great Plains and in adjacent southeastern Canada. It is an important defoliator of pine throughout this region. Hard pines, including the southern yellow pines, are preferred hosts. However, if these primary hosts are defoliated before larval development is complete, larvae will move to and feed on other species of conifers nearby. The number of generations per year varies within the range; one generation occurs in the North and three or more may occur in the South. The sawfly primarily infests young open-grown pines less than 15 feet in height. The common and widespread practice of reforesting pine by the extensive planting of seedlings creates pure stands of young open-grown trees. These young stands provide favorable habitat for the sawfly.
The larvae have whitish bodies and brown head capsules when first hatched. As larvae feed and grow coloration changes. The fully grown larva is about 25 mm long. The head is reddish orange with a pair of black eyespots. The body is whitish yellow to yellow to greenish yellow marked with four, six or eight longitudinal rows of black spots.
The primary hosts are loblolly (Pinus taeda), Virginia (P. virginiana), slash (P. elliottii), longleaf (P. palustris), and shortleaf (P. echinata) pines.
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