Source: Ron Hammond, Curtis Young, Andy Michel, Bruce Eisley, Ohio State University

Grass Sawfly on Wheat in Ohio

As growers are sampling their wheat for the cereal leaf beetle, we also getting reports about a green-yellowish caterpillar. The concern is that these larvae are armyworms. Based on pictures we have received, these appear to be one of the grass sawflies which are fairly common in Ohio. They frequently are found on the orchard grasses and other grasses along road sides. Every few years, we see more of them showing up in wheat and causing grower concern.  The grass sawfly is actually not a caterpillar, which is the larva of either moths or butterflies. Sawflies belong to the order Hymenoptera, and are actually related to bees and wasps. The predominant characteristic that separates them from most caterpillars is that there are more than five prolegs on the abdomen.

Will they cause injury to the wheat? There is the possibility that they could chew up some leaves and also the possibility that they could clip wheat heads, but as with armyworm it would take quite a few of them to cause significant damage. Sawflies generally are not considered a significant economic problem in wheat in Ohio. As a side note, we have been seeing a fair number of adult armyworm moths flying around in the past week, and thus, growers should be keeping an eye out for armyworm caterpillars in the near future.