Arge berberidis - Barberry Fusehorn

Confirmed as present in Britain in 2002, Arge berberidis probably arrived on these shores around 2000. The adult is hard to distinguish from the other three black Arge species from images. However, the presence of an orange coloured protrution at the apex of the abdomen may be unique to berberidis (see Halstead, 2004). Females have a characteristic pincer-shaped sawsheath when viewed from above. Males can be distinguished from nigripes by transverse striations on the tergites, though these can be hard to see in dessicated specimens. In such cases, identification can be confirmed by examination of the penis valves (see Chevin, 1975).

Larvae feed on berberis and mahonia and overwinter in the ground.

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Size: 7 - 10mm

IUCN Status: Least Concern
GB Rarity Status: None

Distribution: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Flight period: Bi- or trivoltine, May to October

Plant associations: Berberis spp. and Mahonia spp.. Barberry, Berberis vulgaris, and Thunberg's Barberry, Berberis thunbergi (Liston, 1995). Also, rarely on Oregon grape, Mahonia aquifolium (Frankenhuyzen, 2000).


Chevin, H. 1975: Notes sur les Hyménoptères Tenthredoïdes. - Bulletin mensuel de la Société Linnéenne de Lyon, Lyon 44(8): 273-276.

Frankenhuyzen, A. van and Blommers, L. H. M. 2000: Arge berberidis, een oprukkende bladwesp in Nederland (Hymenoptera: Argidae). - Entomologische Berichten, Amsterdam 60(10): 181-184

Halstead, A.J., 2004. Berberis sawfly, Arge berberidis Schrank (Hymenoptera: Argidae), a pest new to Britain. British Journal of Entomology and Natural History, 17(3), pp.131-135.

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

Liston, A. D. 1995: Compendium of European Sawflies. List of species, modern nomenclature, distribution, foodplants, identification literature. - Gottfrieding, Chalastos Forestry : 1-190

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 Natural England, unpublished

Zombori, L. 1968: Superficial characters for separating the males of Arge berberidis Schrank, 1802 and A. nigripes Retzius, 1783 (Hym.). - Folia Entomologica Hungarica (Series Nova), Budapest 21(11): 153-160