Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Something eating your Aquilegia (Columbine)? It Might be the Columbine Sawfly

I had another post in mind for today until I was out in the garden the other day and found that some of my Aquilegia (Columbine) looked like this:
Defoliated Aquilegia (Columbine)

Defoliated Aquilegia (Columbine)
Some of my Aquilegia (Columbine) have been defoliated by a culprit and they were stripping the leaves clean.  At first thought you might be thinking rabbit or deer-but this is not the case.  Upon closer inspection I found the hungry little devils.  Here they are:
Columbine Sawfly

Columbine Sawfly

Columbine Sawfly
Columbine Sawfly
These little guys are active in May when the Aquilegia (Columbine) are growing and blooming so keep an eye out for them.  If you find them what is a gardener to do?  You can leave them-but they will completely defoliate your plants and then multiply probably causing even more next year.  You can spray them with an insecticide and kill them which might also cause death of beneficial insects.  An organic pesticide solution is Spinosad, but my solution is hand-picking and squishing or hand-pick and throw in a bucket of soapy water.
Pail of soapy water

Another way to eliminate them that I will use is to spray them down with a spray bottle filled with a squirt of Dawn, a pinch of Epsom salts and water.
Homemade insecticidal soap

When they fall off the plant step on them and squish them (just to make sure they are goners).  If you have only a few plants this task will be an easy one but if you have quite a few this will take you a while.  It took me a few hours to check and remove the sawflies off of my plants.  I will also be checking them almost daily to make sure I didn't leave any behind.

Now don't let the Sawfly infestation freak you out-just remember that there isn't a plant out there that is totally pest and disease free.  I believe even with these bumps in the road Aquilegia (Columbine) is worth having in the garden.  It is a beautiful easy plant that will grow practically anywhere. 
Aquilegia (Columbine)

Aquilegia (Columbine) in the garden

Until next time-Happy Gardening!



  1. Oh, that is a bummer! I haven't noticed them on mine yet. I hope that doesn't happen! Thanks--I will watch out for them.

    1. They are nasty little buggers-they can strip a plant in a couple days! I hope you don't get them too!

  2. I am happy to have found this post -- I deal with these horrid little buggers, too. I'm also a "drowner" of all bad guys, even slugs.
    That said, I can tell you that the sawfly larvae are active right until freeze-up, not only in May. I'm in the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada area, and even though it's cold by this time of year, I have still found them chewing their way through my columbines! They must drop off & hide overnight or on cloudy days or something.
    I loathe them!