Leaf-mining sawfly


Birch leafminer (Fenusa pusilla), Elm leafminer (Fenusa ulmi), Alder leafminer (Fenusa dohrnii) and Hawthorn leafminer (Profenusa Canadensis). The larvae of all of these leaf-mining sawflies feed on leaf tissue between the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf, causing papery brown blotches to appear on the leaves.

leaf mining sawfly adult
Blotches on alder leaf—caused by alder leafminer.

The adult females lay eggs in leaf tissue with their ovipositors when leaves are about half grown. Adults are black, about 3 mm long, except for alder leafminer (6 mm) and resemble small flies. Larvae are translucent, yellowish-white with greatly reduced prolegs.

Alder lead minder eggs

Top: Adult leafmining sawfly. Bottom: Egg laying sites on alder leaf.

Alder leaf miner damage


Target young larvae with systemic insecticides. Look for birch leaf miner larvae as Vanhoutte spirea or European cranberry-bush viburnum are blooming. Newly developing larvae of hawthorn, alder and elm leaf miners are present a little later as black cherry or black locust begin bloom. There may be several generations per year, depending on the weather.

Sawfly larva from hawthorn

Top: Sawfly larva from hawthorn. Bottom: Elm leafminer injury.

Elm leaf miner

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The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.