saw·​fly ˈsȯ-ˌflī How to pronounce sawfly (audio)
: any of numerous hymenopterous insects (superfamily Tenthredinoidea and especially family Tenthredinidae) with the female usually having a sawlike ovipositor and with the larva resembling a plant-feeding caterpillar

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web While imaging a fossilized sawfly, Dr. Frese discovered a clump of pollen on the bee-like insect’s head. New York Times, 7 Jan. 2022 And this pungent tune helps keep Hoplocampa testudinea, the European apple sawfly, from being eaten. Karen Hopkin, Scientific American, 31 Oct. 2021 It’s the larva (youngster) of a sawfly (see above). oregonlive, 14 June 2020 Concerned residents have sent lots of photos of yellow jackets, bumblebees, Elm sawflies and other yellow and black insects. David Williams, CNN, 27 May 2020 Adult sawflies emerge in May and June (first generation) and late July and August (second generation). oregonlive, 10 May 2020 On the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, a scale of relative agony caused by sawflies, wasps, bees and ants, the sweat bee comes in at the lowest level of pain. oregonlive, 10 Apr. 2019 Legions of professional entomologists fret about sawflies, ambrosia beetles, scale insects and leafhoppers. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 7 Aug. 2019 Leaf miners are the larvae of various beetles, flies, moths, and sawflies., 7 June 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sawfly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1773, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sawfly was in 1773

Dictionary Entries Near sawfly

Cite this Entry

“Sawfly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


saw·​fly -ˌflī How to pronounce sawfly (audio)
: any of numerous insects related to the wasps and bees in which the female has a serrated organ used to cut holes in plants where she lays eggs

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