Raspberry Sawfly – Identification
Q: There is something eating my red raspberry leaves. This happened last year after planting and is starting again this year. Can you suggest an organic solution?
A: It looks like raspberry sawfly.
Sawfly larvae are inconspicuous. They feed from the bottom of leaves and they are only out in early morning…so gardeners have a hard time seeing them. You’ve done a good job catching a picture.
The sawfly larvae LOOK like caterpillars to the uneducated eye but they are not. A sawfly is a primitive wasp-like insect. The females have a saw-like blade at the tip of the abdomen that is used to cut slits into plant tissue into which they deposit eggs. The resulting larvae feed voraciously. But since they are not caterpillars, they are not affected by the organic caterpillar insecticide, B.t. (Dipel, Caterpillar Attack, etc)
Organic insecticides such as insecticidal soap (click for sources) or those containing pyrethrin (click for sources)l are effective as long as you apply them under the leaves when the larvae are present.
The contact insecticide carbaryl (click for sources) offers good control if sprayed on the whole plant.