How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

California pear sawfly—Pristiphora abbreviata

Sawflies are wasps. Although they resemble moth caterpillars, sawfly larvae have more prolegs (one on each body segment) and their bodies taper from the head to the tail end.


California pear sawflies are bright green with light brown heads and black eye spots. Larvae can be hard to spot as they position themselves within the holes they make, eating in a circular fashion.

Life cycle

The California pear sawfly overwinters as a pupa in the soil and adult wasps emerge in early spring. After mating, females insert tiny white eggs singly into leaf tissue, commonly at leaf margins on leaves in the lower part of the tree. Most eggs hatch by petal fall, and larvae immediately begin feeding on leaf tissue. Larvae mature on leaves during April and May, drop to the ground, and pupate in the soil. There is one generation a year; this insect is present on the trees only during spring months.


Sawfly larvae cut circular holes along leaf margins and within leaves during spring. Sometimes the entire leaf is consumed except for the midrib. They do not feed on fruit.


Trees can tolerate large numbers of sawflies without suffering much damage.

For other sawfly species, see "Sawflies."

California pear sawfly larva
California pear sawfly larva

Typical leaf damage caused by larva
Typical leaf damage caused by larva

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

Accessibility   Contact webmaster.