31 Mar Melaleuca trees defoliated
You may have noticed some on course Melaleuca trees have been significantly defoliated to the point of looking dead. However, they aren’t dead they were attacked by sawflies or spitfire caterpillars.
These sawflies are native insects and are common throughout Australia. The common name ‘Sawfly’ comes from the saw-like appearance of the egg-laying apparatus (ovipositor) of female sawflies. The females use the ‘saw’ to cut slits (bore holes) in plants into which they lay their eggs. An adult sawfly has been probably misnamed as a ‘fly’ and are a wasp with black with yellow markings. However, sawflies do not sting.
Sawfly larvae superficially resemble caterpillars although they are not true caterpillars they still feed on the leaves.
We have treated all the trees and you will soon see them making a recovery with new shoots on the branches. We will continually monitor the pest activity but at least it may put you mind ease.