Tenthredo atra - Dark Sawfly

Recorded commonly throughout all of mainland Britain, as well as Orkney and the Hebrides (Musgrove, 2023).

One of the Tenthredo atra group (atra, ignobilis, moniliata). Tenthredo atra may eventually turn out to be a complex of further related species. The female differs from the other two species by lacking a red girdle on the abdomen. Males are red banded on tergites three to five and at least half the surface of two and six (much less than half in the other two species). The black antennae are setiform (ie. evenly thinning from base to tip). The metapleura sometimes have a white mark. The hind femur is mostly reddish or yellowish. The stigma and costa are black (the same for ignobilis but brown in moniliata). The eye orbits in both sexes are black.

Larvae feed on a broad range of herbaceous plants. The similar looking Tenthredo moniliata is associated with bogbean, and Tenthredo ignobilis seems restricted to stonecrops .

Jump to other species of Tenthredo

Size: 9 - 12mm

GB IUCN Status: Least Concern
GB Rarity Status: None

Distribution: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Flight period: May to August

Plant associations: Broad range of herbaceous plant incl. Lamium spp., Mentha spp., Plantago spp., Vicia spp., Ranunculus spp., etc. (dead-nettles, mints, plantains, vetches, buttercups, etc.)


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

Fekete, K. (2018) Beginner’s guide to identifying British Tenthredo, Natural History Museum, London. http://www.nhm.ac.uk/content/dam/nhmwww/take-part/identification-trainers/sawflies-guide-id-trainees.pdf [Accessed 26Apr2019]

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

Liston, A.D., Knight, G., Heibo, E., Bland, K.P., Barstad, T.E., Blank, S.M., Boevé, J.L., Fiedler, C., Grearson, K.J., Halstead, A. and Jacobs, H.J., 2012. On Scottish sawflies, with results of the 14th International Sawfly Workshop, in the southern Highlands, 2010 (Hymenoptera, Symphyta). Beiträge zur Entomologie= Contributions to Entomology, 62(1), pp.1-68.

Musgrove, A.J. 2023. A review of the status of sawflies of Great Britain - Phase 2: The Athaliidae and the Tenthredinidae (excluding Nematinae). Natural England, unpublished