Tenthredo brevicornis - Trefoil Sawfly

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

One of a complex of four species: arcuata, brevicornis, notha, schaefferi. Males of the four species cannot always be reliably separated, though Taeger has produced a key to males on the continent. Tenthredo notha and schaeferri can be separated from arcuata and brevicornis by the yellow band on tergite 1 which broadens laterally and continues down onto the lateral face. Tenthredo arcuata and brevicornis females can be distinguished by the shape of the saw teeth. In brevicornis the saw teeth are sharp and pointed. In brevicornis, the antennal scape is usually completely black though not always. However, in old specimens the saw teeth may become blunted and ressemble arcuata.

The larvae of Tenthredo brevicornis feed on Bird's-foot Trefoil.

Jump to other species of Tenthredo

Size: approx. 9 - 11mm

GB IUCN Status: Least Concern
GB Rarity Status: None

Distribution: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Flight period: Uni- or bivoltine, June to September

Plant associations: Lotus corniculatus (Bird's-foot Trefoil)


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

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 Natural England, unpublished

Taeger, A., (1988) Dritter Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Blattwespengattung Tenthredo L. (Hymenoptera: Symphyta: Tenthredinidae), Beitr. Ent., Berlin