Abia nitens (=sericea) - Scabious Clubhorn

Formerly known as Abia sericea, Abia nitens is similar to Abia candens and more common being very widely distributed through mainland Britain, as well as Skye and Mull (Musgrove, 2022). The antennae in both sexes are usually all yellow and never with segment three bicolorous. In Abia candens the antennae are dark on the apical and basal segments with middle segments yellow.

Larvae feed on members of the Dipsacaceae family which includes scabious. In experiments, the larvae have been shown to feed readily on cut-leaved teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus) which occurs in the British Isles as a bird seed or garden escape. Abia nitens larvae have a row of black dots on the dorsal midline.

Jump to other Cimbicidae

Size: approx. 10mm

GB IUCN Status: Least Concern
GB Rarity Status: None

Distribution: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Flight period: May to August

Plant associations: Dipsacaceae including Succisa pratensis (Devil's-bit Scabious), Knautia arvensis (Field Scabious), Dipsacus laciniatus (Cut-leaved Teasel).


Benson, R.B., 1952. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects. Hymenoptera, Symphyta, Vol 6, Section 2(a-c), Royal Entomological Society, London

Hackston, M (2014). Family Cimbicidae: Key to the British species. https://sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeyshymenoptera/Home/hymenoptera/symphyta/superfamily-tenthredinoidea/family-cimbicidae [Accessed 25Apr2019]

Harizanova, V.; Stoeva, A.; Rector, B. G. 2012: Host range testing and biology of Abia sericea (Cimbicidae), a candidate for biological control of invasive teasels (Dipsacus spp.) in North America. - Journal of Hymenoptera Research, Washington 28: 1-11

Liston, A., Mutanen, M., Heidemaa, M., Blank, S.M., Kiljunen, N., Taeger, A., Viitasaari, M., Vikberg, V., Wutke, S. and Prous, M., 2022. Taxonomy and nomenclature of some Fennoscandian Sawflies, with descriptions of two new species (Hymenoptera, Symphyta). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift69(2), pp.151-218.

Liston A, Knight G, Sheppard D, Broad G, Livermore L (2014) Checklist of British and Irish Hymenoptera - Sawflies, ‘Symphyta’. Biodiversity Data Journal 2: e1168. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.2.e1168

Musgrove, A.J. 2022. A review of the status of sawflies of Great Britain - Phase 1: families other than Tenthredinidae. Natural England, unpublished