Pamphilius varius - Variable Spinner

A local species widespread to northern Scotland (Musgrove, 2022).

Female: The head is smooth and polished, yellow with extensive black markings. The thorax is mostly black with a rectangular yellow fleck on the mesoscutellum. Venation is yellowish basally and brown thereafter. Stigma is brownish yellow.The abdomen is orange-brown above marked with varying amounts of black and with black on tergite 1 and part of tergite 2.

Male: Head mostly black posteriorly and yellow anteriorly. Mesoscutellum and metascutellum normally yellow. Venation as per the female. Abdomen above frequently yellowish brown but, in the darkest speciments, only tergites 4 and 5 are orange brown, the rest being black.

Pamphilius varius larvae feed in leaf rolls on birches in sunny locations. Downy birch is preferred. Also known from Siberian alder in the east of its range.

Jump to other Pamphiliidae

Size: 7 - 11mm

GB IUCN Status: Near Threatened
GB Rarity Status: None

Distribution: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Flight period: May to June

Plant associations: Betula spp. (birches) and Alnus spp. (alders) including Betula pubescens (Downy Birch), Alnus alnobetula subsp. fruticosa (Siberian Alder). Downy Birch is preferred.


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., 1995. Compendium of European Sawflies, Chalastos Forestry, Daibersdorf

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 Natural England, unpublished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. ed., 2002. Sawflies (Hymenoptera, Symphyta), I: a review of the suborder, the Western Palaearctic taxa of Xyeloidea and Pamphilioidea. Tremex Press.