Diprion similis (white pine sawfly)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Social Impact
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Diprion similis (Hartig, 1834)
Preferred Common Name
- white pine sawfly
Other Scientific Names
- Diprion eremita
- Diprion simile (Hartig)
- Lophyrus eremita Thomson
- Lophyrus simile
- Lophyrus similis Hartig
- Neodiprion simile
- Neodiprion similis
- Pteronus similis (Hartig)
International Common Names
- English: imported pine sawfly; introduced pine sawfly; pine sawfly, introduced
- French: diprion importé du pin; tenthrede des coniferes; tenthrède importée du pin
- Russian: sosnovyi cherno-zheltyi pililschik
Local Common Names
- Estonia: kirju-männivaablane
- Finland: kirjotoukkamäntypistiäinen; täplämäntypistiäinen
- Germany: hornblattwespe, aehnliche kiefernbusch-; kiefernbuschhornblattwespe; weymouthskiefern-blattwespe
- Poland: borecznik podobny
- DIPRSI (Diprion similis)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Hymenoptera
- Family: Diprionidae
- Genus: Diprion
- Species: Diprion similis
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
D. similis is closely related to the common pine sawfly Diprion pini, and some authors (e.g. Konow, 1905) considered similis a synonym of pini. The striking differences in larval coloration, and differences in penis valvae and in female saw were the main evidence that D. similis is distinct from D. pini (Baer, 1906, 1916; Enslin, 1916; Monro, 1935a, Coppel et al., 1974).
A comprehensive review of D. similis, with emphasis on studies in Wisconsin, USA, was published by Coppel et al. (1974).
DescriptionTop of page
The freshly laid egg is pale whitish-blue, translucent, and shiny. Just prior to hatching it becomes bluish-green to turquoise. It is oval-spheroid with parallel sides, blunt rounded ends, and a slightly convex ventral margin. When first deposited, the dimensions are approximately 0.4 x 1.4 mm and 0.5 x 1.7 mm just before hatching. The eggs are laid serially in slits cut in the edge of mature needles, and are covered by a frothy substance (Wilson, 1971; Coppel et al., 1974).
The newly hatched larvae are 2.5 mm long, and fully grown larvae are 18 to 28 mm long. The male and female larvae have five and six feeding instars, respectively, with shiny-black head capsules. The fully grown larvae moult to the final non-feeding prepupal or pre-spinning larvae, which spin the cocoon. The body of L1 to L3 instars is uniform yellowish-green, with black thoracic legs. The L4 instar has a mottled colour pattern similar to the mature larvae. There is a double black mid-dorsal line extending the length of the body. On either side of the dorsal stripe is a yellowish stripe broken with transverse brown markings. Laterally the larva has a dark-brown to black field filled with numerous rounded yellow and white spots, many of which protrude from the surface of the body. The ventral side is pale-yellow. The body is sparsely covered with minute spines. The colours of the pre-spinning larvae are very light and pigmentation is strongly reduced.
The cocoon is cylindrical with hemispherical ends. It is finely textured, somewhat glossy, and brown. The male cocoons are smaller (7.0 to 8.5 mm x 4 to 4.5 mm) than those of the females (8.5 to 10 mm x 4.5 to 5.5 mm), although there may be an overlap between the sexes. Mertins and Coppel (1972) used seed dockage sieves for the sex-separation of D. similis cocoons.
Male: 7 to 9 mm, black, abdomen ventral sometimes more or less rufous. Legs yellow, with the trochanters and basal two-thirds of the femora brownish-black. Antenna black with 22 to 24 segments, bipectinate. Penis valve: valviceps triangular, the breadth of the tip less than one-third of the base breadth.
Female: 7.5 to 10 mm, head and thorax mostly black, abdomen yellow and black. Colour pattern variable; some individuals almost dark. Legs yellow, femora partly fuscous. Antenna (including scapus) black, serrate. Lateral bands of the saw (annuli) with teeth (ctenidia) very regular and even.
DistributionTop of page
D. similis is native to Eurasia, and has been introduced in northeastern North America. It occurs in central and northern Europe up to the northern parts of Fennoscandia, in Russian Siberia to the Baikal region, and in China. Since its discovery in Connecticut, USA, in 1914 (Britton 1915b), D. similis has expanded its range in the USA and Canada to cover most of the native distribution of Pinus strobus and many areas where the tree has been transplanted (Coppel et al., 1974; Melcher and Townsend, 1999). According to Drooz et al. (1979), the first reports of its presence in Virginia are incorrect. It was certainly recorded by Thomas et al. (1982).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|United Kingdom||Present, Localized||Native|
|United States||Present, Localized||Introduced||1914||Invasive|
|-New Hampshire||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive|
|-New Jersey||Present, Localized||Introduced||1916||Invasive|
|-New York||Present, Localized||Introduced||1916||Invasive|
|-North Carolina||Present, Localized||Introduced||1977||Invasive|
|-Rhode Island||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
HabitatTop of page
Natural stands as well as plantations, nurseries and estates are subject to infestation by D. similis. Trees of all ages are defoliated and those in the most exposed locations or in the overstorey suffer the heaviest defoliation. Ornamentals, wind break, roadside, and pasture grown trees are particularly vulnerable (Coppel et al., 1974). Infestations have also been reported from Swiss mountains over 1200 m high (Barbey, 1924; Escherich, 1942).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Wetlands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Pinus banksiana (jack pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus cembra (arolla pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus densiflora (Japanese umbrella pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus elliottii (slash pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus flexilis (limber pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus koraiensis (fruit pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus monticola (western white pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus mugo (mountain pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus nigra (black pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus pumila (Dwarf Siberian pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus resinosa (red pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus rigida (pitch pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus sibirica (Siberian stone pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus taeda (loblolly pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus virginiana (scrub pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Pinus wallichiana (blue pine)||Pinaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page
SymptomsTop of page
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Leaves / frass visible|
|Leaves / frass visible|
|Whole plant / plant dead; dieback|
|Whole plant / plant dead; dieback|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
D. similis is arrhenotokous i.e. unfertilized eggs produce haploid males. According to Maxwell (1958), D. similis has a chromosome set of seven, but Smith (1941) describes the haploid complement as having 14 metacentric chromosomes. More recent works of Rousselet et al. (1998) showed that D. similis has 14 acrocentric chromosomes (n = 14 for haploid males and 2n = 28 for diploid females).
Sex ratios reported for D. similis range from 37.5% to 59% males (Coppel et al., 1974; Craig and Mopper, 1993).
Some gynandromorphic individuals of D. similis, exhibiting characteristics of both sexes, have been reported (Britton and Zappe, 1918; Coppel, 1959; Mertins and Coppel, 1971; Martini et al., 1999), and the sexual behaviour of such individuals studied (Mertins and Coppel, 1971; Coppel et al., 1974).
Physiology and Phenology
In Europe and most of North America two complete generations occur each year, in colder climates the development is univoltine. A third generation is possible only in exceptionally favourable conditions. Winter is passed in the cocoon as eonymphal or pronymphal stages. The emergence of adults may begin in April, and continues through May and June. The adults of the second generation are in flight from July to August. The first generation larvae are present from May to August, and the second generation larvae from late July to early October. Late strugglers may succumb in the autumn before completing development. There is a great overlap in the generations, and throughout much of the growing season all stages of the insect may be found on the trees at the same time.
The adult sawflies are ready to mate immediately after emergence. The eggs are laid serially in slits cut in the edges of mature needles. The average number of eggs per needle is six to ten with a range of one to 44. The average number of eggs laid per female is approximately 70 with a range of two to 148. All the eggs are not deposited in the same shoot or tree. Incubation time is 7 to 15 days, depending on ambient temperature.
The first three larval instars feed gregariously, but older larvae disperse and become solitary feeders. The larval feeding period lasts approximately 30 to 40 days depending on temperature. The fully grown larvae moult, producing non-feeding prespinning larvae or prepupae, which spin cocoons. The cocoons are most frequently spun on the host among the needles, at the bases of small branches, or on the trunk in bark crevices. Occasionally, they are found on non-host trees, shrubs, or grasses. In Europe, the second generation cocoons are spun beneath the tree on the ground, whereas in America those are spun, as in the first generation, above ground level.
The time spent in the cocoon depends on the length of the diapause. Non-diapausing cocoons produce adults within approximately 2 weeks. Diapause may last 4 to 5 weeks, or it may be prolonged to last 1 to 3 years or more. The causes of the induction and termination of diapause are not fully understood.
D. similis is, despite its wide distribution, a species that rarely outbreaks. One explanation for that could be that the cocoons are most often spun above ground level, and are thus exposed and vulnerable to low temperatures, predators and parasitoids.
Low winter temperature is an important natural control. Up to 50% of the larvae of the second generation are commonly killed before they reach the cocoon stage. The cocoons on trees above snow level may suffer complete mortality (Wilson, 1971).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
In Europe, Hardy (1939) from Poland, and Sturm (1942) from Germany published lists of parasitoids of D. similis. Coppel et al. (1974) summarized the North American records, and listed 35 species. Four of the five most important parasitoid species listed were probably of European origin and were either purposely or accidentally introduced. The most effective species in suppressing host populations are the chalcid cocoon parasitoid, Monodontomerus dentipes, and the ichneumonid larval parasitoid Exenterus amictorius. Hardy (1939) recorded the egg parasitoid Dipriocampe diprioni, in Poland.
Predation of larvae by reduviid and pentatomid heteropterans (bugs), Chrysopa spp. (Neuroptera), and numerous spider species were reported.
Many bird species are known as predators of the larvae, cocoons, or adults of D. similis. Those cocoons that remain on the trees and other objects, above the snow line, are vulnerable to attack by overwintering birds. Less than 10% of such cocoons escape destruction. Sturm (1942) reported approximately 42 to 60% predation of cocoons by birds.
Small mammals (mice, voles, shrews, chipmunks, and squirrels) destroy the cocoons of D. similis, but at a lower rate than those of diprionid species that spin cocoons in the litter or ground.
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Growing medium accompanying plants||pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Leaves||eggs; larvae; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||larvae; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Timber type||Used as packing|
|Solid wood packing material with bark||Yes|
|Solid wood packing material without bark||Yes|
|Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Loose wood packing material|
|Processed or treated wood|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page
At the time of the introduction and discovery of the introduced pine sawfly in America, the taxonomic status of D. similis and D. pini was confused. There was great concern about the new pest, and large investigations were initiated. According to Coppel et al. (1974), the normally scattered and low populations of D. similis are seldom responsible for more than moderate defoliation in America. However, occasionally outbreak years occur resulting in severe defoliation and mortality, especially to Pinus strobus in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Christmas tree plantations the introduced pine sawfly may cause problems, because even light defoliation renders the trees un-saleable. In general natural control factors, such as high winter mortality, parasitoids and predators have kept the population levels under an economic level.
Economic ImpactTop of page
At the time of the introduction and discovery of the introduced pine sawfly in America, the taxonomic status of D. similis and D. pini was confused. There was great concern about the new pest, and large investigations were initiated. According to Coppel et al. (1974), the normally scattered and low populations of D. similis are seldom responsible for more than moderate defoliation in America. However, occasionally outbreak years occur resulting in severe defoliation and mortality, especially to Pinus strobus in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Christmas tree plantations the introduced pine sawfly may cause problems, because even light defoliation renders the trees un-saleable. In general, natural control factors, such as high winter mortality, parasitoids and predators have kept the population levels under an economic level.
Social ImpactTop of page
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
The adults of D. dimilis and Diprion pini are very similar. In D. pini males the valviceps is not clearly triangular; the breadth of its tip is more than half of the base breadth. In D. pini females the lateral bands of the saw (annuli) have teeth (ctenidia) of irregular sizes. Scapus yellow.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods
According to Coppel and Benjamin (1965), solitary-feeding diprionid species such as D. similis and Diprion frutetorum [Gilpinia frutetorum] cannot be removed economically by hand-picking or beating and destroying methods. Ornamental or high value trees in urban areas or small pine plantations lend themselves to hand-picking. When large areas are involved, the cost factor for this type of control becomes excessive.
Tsao and Hodson (1956) reported differential survival of D. similis larvae on a series of hosts on which oviposition occurred. Middleton (1923) presented a complete host list and host preference for oviposition and larval acceptance. Codella et al. (1991) found substantial between-tree variability in D. similis performance indicating a potential for resistance breeding programmes.
Importation and colonization of exotic and native parasitoids against pine sawflies has received considerable attention in North America. McGugan and Coppel (1962), and Coppel et al. (1974) summarized control efforts against D. similis. The releases of a European chalcid, Monodontomerus dentipes, were especially successful, although D. similis was not the prime target of introductions in North America.
Diprionid sawflies are notably susceptible to most stomach and contact poisons (Coppel and Benjamin, 1965). The chemical suppression of D. similis in forested areas is generally not justified because of the relative expense, and the fact that tree mortality is rare with only loss in increment resulting from defoliation. In Christmas tree plantations or on ornamentals, even moderate defoliation may be undesirable and insecticides may be applied. The literature on applications was reviewed by Coppel et al. (1974).
Coppel and Norris (1960, 1961) reported that systemic insecticides injected into Pinus strobus gave practical levels of control of D. similis for periods up to 3 years. Parasitoids caged with foliage from injected trees were not adversely affected.
In laboratory test, pyrethroids, arylpropylethers, and acylureas were highly effective against diprionid larvae, including D. similis (Glowacka and Malinowski, 1994; Malinowski, 1995).
A Cecropia juvenile hormone applied to first-instar larvae of D. similis, caused complete mortality before the fourth-instar was reached. The effect was less on second-instar larvae, and there was no effect on the third-instar (Fogal et al., 1979).
Field Monitoring/Economic Threshold Levels
Coppel et al. (1960) and Casida et al. (1963) started investigation of the diprionid (D. similis) pheromones. The inactive precursor of the D. similis pheromone is 3,7-dimethyl-2-pentadecanol ('diprionol'). The active compound is (2S,3R,7R)-propionate, and (2S,3S,7S)-propionate is a synergist (Jewett et al., 1976; Olaifa et al., 1988). The application of sex pheromones in pest monitoring and control was reviewed by Anderbrant (1993, 1998, 1999). According to a mathematical model developed by Mertins et al. (1975), four generations of intensive trapping would theoretically be sufficient to eliminate D. similis from an isolated area.
ReferencesTop of page
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Britton WE, 1916. Further notes on Diprion simile Hartig. Journal of Economic Entomology, 9:281-282.
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Casale A; Currado I, 1981. Gradazioni di Diprion simile (Hartig) su Pinus strobus nella pianura piemontese (Hym. Symphyta Diprionidae). Annali della Facoltà di Scienze Agrarie della Università degli Studi di Torino, 11:69-82.
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Fogal WH; Sullivan CR; Kwain MJ, 1979. Effect of an insect growth regulator, exhibiting juvenile hormone activity, on larvae of a pine-defoliating sawfly, Diprion similis (Hartig). Report, Great Lakes Forest Research Centre, Canada, No. O-X-286, 18 pp.; 1 pl. (col.); 23 ref.
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McGugan BM; Coppel HC, 1962. Biological control of forest insects, 1910-1958. In: A review of the biological control attempts against insects and weeds in Canada, Pt II. Techn. Commun. No. 2, Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control, Trinidad, 35-216.
Mertins JW; Coppel HC, 1971. Sexual behavior in gynandromorphs of Diprion similis (Hymenoptera: Diprionidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer., 64:1191-1192.
Mertins JW; Coppel HC; Karandinos MG, 1975. Potential for suppressing Diprion similis(Hymenoptera: Diprionidae) with pheromone trapping: a population model. Researches on Population Ecology, 17(1):77-84
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Olaifa JI; Matsumura F; Kikukawa T; Coppel HC, 1988. Pheromone-dependent species recognition mechanisms between Neodiprion pinetum and Diprion similis on white pine. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 14(4):1131-1144
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Rohwer SA, 1916. Diprion simile in North America. Entomological Society of Washington Proceedings, 18:213-214.
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Townsend LH, Collins JT, 1992. New sawfly pine pest found in Kentucky. In: Kentucky Pest News, 619 Coop. Exten. Serv., Univ. Kentucky. 3 pp.
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Verzhutskii BN, 1969. Sawflies of the Baikal region. In: Transl. Dep. Fish. For. Can. No. OOFF-81 [Transl. from Pililsciki Pribajkalja. Akademija Nauk SSSR, Moscow. 1966], 391 pp.
Viitasaari M, Heidemaa M, Nuorteva M, Zinovjev A, 1998. An annotated checklist of the sawflies (Hymenoptera, Symphyta) of Estonia. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Biology, Ecology. 47 (2), 126-147.
Viitasaari M, Varama M, 1987. SahapistiSiset 4. HavupistiSiset (Diprionidae). Summary: Sawflies 4. Conifer sawflies (Diprionidae). In: Univ. Helsinki, Dep. Agric. and For. Zool., Reports, 10 1-79.
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Zhelochovtsev AN, 1994. Order Hymenoptera. Suborder Symphyta (Chalastogastra). In: Keys to the insects of the European part of the USSR, 3 [ed. by Medvedjev GS]. Translation, New Delhi, Amerind. Publ. Co. Pvt. Ltd. 1-387.
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