Ferns, Horsetails and their allies

The pteridophytes are vascular plants that appeared early in the fossil record. Rather than producing flowers and seeds their sexual reproduction is by spore production. They dominated the landscape until flowering plants evolved. There are relatively few sawflies that have larvae feeding on the ferns and horsetails.

Class Equisetopsida: Order Equisetales (Horsetails)

Family Equisetaceae

Genus Equisetum The only sawflies in Britain and Ireland that feed on horsetails are the Dolerus species within the Selandriinae of the Tenthredinidae. The species are: Dolerus aericeps, Dolerus bimaculatus, Dolerus cothurnatus, Dolerus eversmanni, Dolerus germanicus, Dolerus gessneri, Dolerus gilvipes, Dolerus pratensis, Dolerus pratorum, Dolerus vestigialis, Dolerus yukonensis.

Equisetum arvense (Field Horsetail) Dolerus aericeps(1), Dolerus germanicus(3), Dolerus pratorum(2)

Equisetum fluviatile (Water Horsetail) Dolerus cothurnatus(4), Dolerus pratensis(4)

Equisetum palustre (Marsh Horsetail) Dolerus aericeps(1), Dolerus cothurnatus(4), Dolerus eversmanni(3), Dolerus germanicus(3), Dolerus gessneri(2), Dolerus pratensis(4), Dolerus vestigialis(2)

Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) Dolerus pratorum(2)

Equisetum sylvaticum (Wood Horsetail) Dolerus gessneri(2), Dolerus gilvipes(3), Dolerus vestigialis(2)

Class Polypodiopsida: Orders Cyatheales, Hymenophyllales, Osmundales, Salvinales, Schizaeales (Ferns)

There are no known larvae within the British and Irish fauna that feed on these fern orders.

Class Polypodiopsida: Order Polypodiales (Ferns)

Within the Polypodiales, the families Davalliaceae, Onocleaceae, Pteridaceae, Thelypteridaceae and Woodsiaceae are not known to support any sawfly larvae.

Family Aspleniaceae

Genus Asplenium (Spleenworts) Aneugmenus padi(3)

Family Athyriaceae

Genus Athyrium (Lady Ferns) Tenthredo livida(5)

Athyrium filix-femina (Lady-fern) Blasticotoma filiceti(6), Heptamelus ochroleucus(3), Aneugmenus coronatus(3), Stromboceros delicatulus(3), Strongylogaster macula(3), Strongylogaster mixta(3)

Family Blechnaceae

Genus Blechnum (Hard Ferns)

Blechnum spicant (Hard-fern) Heptamelus ochroleucus(3)

Family Cystopteridaceae

Genus Gymnocarpium (Ferns)

Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak-fern) Stromboceros delicatulus(5)

Family Dennstaedtiaceae

Genus Pteridium (Brackens)

Pteridium aquilinum (Bracken) Blasticotoma filiceti(3), Aneugmenus fuerstenbergensis(3), Aneugmenus temporalis(3), Aneugmenus padi(3), Stromboceros delicatulus(3), Strongylogaster filicis(3), Strongylogaster macula(3), Strongylogaster mixta(3), Strongylogaster multifasciata(3), Strongylogaster xanthocera(3), Rhogogaster chlorosoma(3), Tenthredo balteata(3), Tenthredo colon(5), Tenthredo ferruginea(5), Tenthredo livida(5)

Family Dryopteridaceae

Genus Dryopteris (Buckler and Male Ferns) Blasticotoma filiceti(3), Strongylogaster multifasciata(5), Strongylogaster xanthocera(5), Tenthredo ferruginea(5), Tenthredo mioceras(3)

Dryopteris carthusiana (Narrow Buckler-fern) Strongylogaster macula(5)

Dryopteris dilatata (Broad Buckler-fern) Strongylogaster macula(5), Strongylogaster mixta(5)

Dryopteris filix-mas (Male-fern) Aneugmenus coronatus(5), Strongylogaster mixta(5)

Genus Polystichum (Shield-ferns) Blasticotoma filiceti(3)

Family Polypodiaceae

Genus Polypodium (Polypody Ferns)

Polypodium vulgare (Polypody) Heptamelus ochroleucus(3), Stromboceros delicatulus(3)

Class Psilotopsida: Order Ophioglossales (Adder's-tongues)

The class psilotopsida, represented in Britain and Ireland by the Ophioglossaceae family, is not known to support any sawfly larvae.


1. Benson RB. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects, 6, 2 (b). Hymenoptera 2, Symphyta, Section (b). London: Royal Entomological Society; 1952.

2. Lorenz, H. & Kraus M. Die Larvalsystematik der Blattwespen (Tenthredinoidea und Megalodontoidea). - Abhandlungen zur Larvalsystematik der Insekten No. 1. Berlin: Akadamie - Verlag; 1957.

3. Liston AD. Compendium of european sawflies. Dtsch Entomol Zeitschrift [Internet]. 1995;43(2):319. Available from: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/mmnd.19960430223

4. Cameron P. A Monograph of the British Phytophagous Hymenoptera. (Tenthredo, Sirex and Cynips, Linné.) Vol. 1. London: Ray Society; 1882.

5. Lacourt J. Hymenoptera of Europe 2. Sawflies of Europe. NAP Editions; 2020.

6. Forsius I. Larven till Blasticotoma filiceti funnen vid Kuopio (Sb.). Not Entomol. 1924;4:95–6.