The Wheat Stem Sawfly is a pest that is native to North America and lives in wheat and barley. In Alberta, it attacks spring wheat the most, and recently become a potential host to winter wheat as well.

What are the Risks?

Feeding of the stem by larvae reduces yield and quality of grain. Mature larvae chew around or inside the stem during the late summer. Damage is often diagnosed by the presence of sawdust-like frass inside the stem of the wheat.

What to Look For?

Larvae are cream-coloured and wrinkly with a brown head. Adults are shiny and black with three yellow bands around the abdomen.


 Wheat Stem Sawfly  Wheat Stem Sawfly   Wheat Stem Sawfly

Sawfly larva and pupa              sawfly damage                                 adult

 Wheat Stem Sawfly  Wheat Stem Sawfly

 Adult                                                                                                   Lodging caused by wheat stem sawfly


There are several biological and cultural practices you may implement to help manage Wheat Stem Sawfly:

  • Plant with solid-stem varieties that have a tolerance to Wheat Stem Sawfly;
  • Plan crop rotations with crops that are immune or resistant to sawfly, such as oats and broadleaf crops;
  • Trap crops may be used to catch the larvae before it moves to the base of the plant;
  • Implement a conservation tillage system;
  • When possible, harvest early before sawfly damage occurs; and
  • Use parasites to help regulate the Sawfly population.

Related Links

Wheat stem Sawfly - Overview - Alberta

Wheat Stem Sawfly Forecast - Alberta

Wheat Stem Sawfly - Government of Saskatchewan

Wheat Stem Sawfly - Alberta Barley