Pamphilius vafer - Deceptive Spinner

Similar to P. albopictus and pale forms of P. varius. Historically widely distributed with records from Cornwall north to the Dornoch Firth. Still widely recorded in the 1980s and 1990s but just a few records more recently (Musgrove, 2022).

Females have a yellow head with large black patterns. The thorax is black with yellow markings including on the mesoscutum, mesoscutellum and metascutellum. Abdomen is orange-brown above with only tergites 1 and 2 and the lateral margins marked with black. Venation brown and with a brownish yellow stigma.

Males have a head that is anteriorly yellow and posteriorly black with yellow stripes from the eye to the back of the head. The thorax is mostly black with the mesoscutellum and sometimes metascutellum yellow. Abdomen and venation as per the female.

Pamphilius vafer larvae feed in leaf rolls or twists on common alder and grey alder (on the continent). Pre-pupae have been known to rest for four winters before emerging.

Jump to other Pamphiliidae

Size: 8 - 11mm

GB IUCN Status: Endangered
GB Rarity Status: Nationally Scarce

Distribution: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Flight period: May to June

Plant associations: Alnus spp. (alders) including Alnus glutinosa (Alder), Alnus incana (Grey Alder).


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

Liston A, Knight G, Sheppard D, Broad G, Livermore L (2014) Checklist of British and Irish Hymenoptera - Sawflies, ‘Symphyta’. Biodiversity Data Journal 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 Natural England, unpublished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., 2002. Sawflies (Hymenoptera, Symphyta), I: a review of the suborder, the Western Palaearctic taxa of Xyeloidea and Pamphilioidea. Vol. 1. Helsinki: Tremex Press.