Interesting Sawflies (Symphyta) Abia sericea and Abia candens photographed in 1999

By Kevin McGee

Abia sericea

Mill Meadow, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust Reserve at Drakes Broughton once again turned up trumps. On 5.6.99 I couldn't fail to notice a quite large 'metallic' green Cimbicid sawfly. I eventually managed to obtain a fairly decent photograph from which Paul Whitehead was able to identify it as Abia sericea, local and declining species.

Abia candens

Another somewhat smaller 'metallic' Cimbicid was found on angelica flowers in the meadow on 29.7.99. This proved even harder to photographing a nagging breeze! I asked John Meiklejohn, who was with me at the time, to capture the specimen as I was sure it was unusual. Indeed it was - it turned out to be a male Abia candens, something very rarely seen, and of unknown status in Britain. The specimen is now in John Meiklejohn's private reference collection. Interestingly both Abia sericea and Abia candens are often found in association with each other - when they are found. A sericea larvae are known to use both Devil's-bit scabious Succisa pratensis and Field Scabious Knautia arvensis for its life cycle, and this is probably also the case with A candens

Another sawfly new to me was photographed in Tiddesley Wood 29.8.99. A very large blue-black insect was found ovipositing on the trunk of a Norway Spruce, she was about 25 mm long with predominantly orange legs and antennae. Several photographs were taken before I noticed that two others of the same species were also ovipositing on the saw trunk! I concluded that they were Sirex juvencus and Paul Whitehead agrees with my determination.. I have no idea of the status of this insect in Worcestershire.

With grateful thanks to Paul Whitehead and John Meiklejohn for their kind help and expertise. Reference WRIGHT, Adam 1990 British sawflies, a key to the adults of genera occurring in Britain. AIDGAP key Reprinted from Field Studies vol 7 no 3. Field Studies Council publication 203.

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