Cephalcia lariciphila - Larch Spinner

Though present much earlier in small numbers, the first outbreaks of infestation were reported in Wales in 1972. The species rapidly spread to larch plantations in England and Scotland. The species mates at ground level shortly after emerging from leaf litter in the spring. Mated females climb tree trunks or fly to the crown of the trees to lay eggs. Adult Cephalcia lariciphila are black with off-white markings on the head, thorax and sides of the abdomen. The tibia and some basal antennal segments are reddish.

Larvae spin a silk tube and feed on the young shoots. When full grown (around July) the larvae drop or decend on silk and burrow to where the leaf litter meets the underlying soil. They overwinter as a prepupa and pupate in early spring.

Jump to other Pamphiliidae

Size: approx. 10 - 12mm

GB IUCN Status: Least Concern
GB Rarity Status: None

Distribution: England, Scotland, Wales

Flight period: Univoltine, April to June

Plant associations: Larix spp (larches) including Larix decidua (European larch), Larix kaempferi (Japanese Larch).


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

Billany D J, Brown R M (1980) The Web-spinning Larch Sawfly, Cephalcia lariciphila Wachtl. (Hymenoptera: Pamphiliidae) A New Pest of Larix in England and Wales. Forestry 53(1)

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 Natural England, unpublished

Viitasaari, M. ed., 2002. Sawflies (Hymenoptera, Symphyta), I: a review of the suborder, the Western Palaearctic taxa of Xyeloidea and Pamphilioidea (Vol. 1). Tremex Press.