Guest Post From A Columbine: Sawfly Larvae Troubles

Hi, Readers! Black Barlow’s my name and Columbine is my game. I’m from the Aquilegia clan and I live her at May Dreams Gardens, up by the house, just to the left of the water spigot.

I don’t know how I got planted here, kind of out of the way, but I’ve done my best to bloom each spring, for nearly ten years now.

I’ve never had any problems except those ol’ leaf miners, but all of us columbines get those, so that’s no big deal.

But then the other day, just as I was putting out my best buds, something or somethings came along and started eating my leaves. I don’t know how long they were here but by the time Carol saw them, I was nearly leafless on one side.

Turns out I had been attacked by something called columbine sawfly larvae. We’ve never had them around here, so Carol had to look it up on the Internet by doing a search on “columbine leaf eaten”. Then she blew up a picture she’d taken of my half-eaten leaves and confirmed that’s what they were.

The next day, she came by and with her bare hands, she removed as many of those larvae as she could find by just gently pulling my leaves, or what was left of them, through her hands, and then throwing the larvae that came off onto the ground where she stepped on them. Then she sprayed my remaining leaves with an insecticidal soap and the rest of the larvae curled up and fell off, and she squished them, too, for good measure.

I was sure glad to be rid of those little buggers!

Then she went around and inspected all the other columbines in the garden. Turns out those larvae were on one other plant, but she took care of them in similar fashion.

All is now right in our world of columbines here at May Dreams Gardens. I still hope to bloom this spring and I think I can. And I hope Carol will take some nice pictures to show that in spite of half my leaves been eaten by columbine sawfly larvae, I’m still a handsome flower.

Bloom where you’re planted and have a wonderful spring!

Yours in blooming,

Black Barlow


  1. If you think you can bloom, then surely you will. Thank goodness you have a garden angel to watch over you. I'll be looking for photos of you in full bloom!

  2. Some of the fun of gardening would be taken away if we didn't have pests to ward off.

  3. Dear Black Barlow~~ I'd like to introduce myself. I'm Holly Hock. I sure hope my caretaker, Grace is as thorough as your caretaker is. Grace is still trying to find the recommended spray (from email correspondence with an OSU entomologist) to kill the creepy critters on me. She didn't know there was such a thing as Hollyhock weevils but sure enough they've been feasting on my foliage for several weeks and now Grace is noticing them on my nearest neighbor too. They're about the size of a gnat so I can't really complain that it took her so long to find them. They've got the characteristic long snout. And they definitely have to go. I just wanted to tell you this so you wouldn't feel embarrassed about having critters on you. Grace looks forward to seeing you bloom.

  4. Mr B, I am sure you will recover after such tlc. I will look forward to seeing you in your blooming splendor. I am glad you shared your infestation with us since I have never heard or seen such a thing on the columbine in my garden. I will have a closer look around tomrrow. Maybe the wet spring we have had has given those critters a good environment to grow in. Wishing you well...

  5. Why not have your angel hand pick them off your foliage and feed them to the fish!

  6. We've gone on alert status over here at C&L...We, columbines are the backbone of the spring we don't want anything eating our leaves! We have that nasty phlox bug in the garden; they settled in during the year of rains we had for the last week! Thanks for the warning.

  7. Thank you for the heads up. I can imagine Columbine inspections going on across America.

  8. I am so glad that you are feeling better and will be in full bloom soon. You really need to put on a good show to give Carol a proper "Thank You".

  9. I shall bloom where I am planted! GREAT post, Carol, made me smile. Happy Gardening!


  10. Leprechaun Gold Columbine says: sorry you have joined our club of victims of sawfly larva. They are icky, nasty little creatures. We've been suffering with them for several years now. I hope yours don't come back.

  11. I will have to keep an eye on my columbine! I didn't know there was such a thing as sawfly larvae...yuck! Good job taking care of those little buggers!
    Also, do Columbines divide well? I think I will wait until Fall at this point, but was wondering if you have divided any of yours?

  12. Close call... you're lucky you had a dedicated caretaker to save you!

  13. Roses get sawflies, too. I wonder if there are plant specific sawflies or if there is one kind of sawfly that likes lots of different plants?

  14. I know you're good at re-growing your leaves so hop to it!

  15. Hello world! We're the four mugo pine bushes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and we have reason to believe that the sawfly larvae that seems to be bothering you has been chomping away at our leaves too. The yard-owners seem to have noticed a few years back, and once they sprayed us, but those darned larvae came back!!! Each year, the yard-owner comes out of their abode and cuts off my branches, trying in vain to pick all of the larvae off with their bare hands! But recently, the yard-owners thought of trying a vacuum cleaner. So out came the old shop-vac, and with that handy tool that the yard-owners call the crevace tool, they sucked all the little bugs off! So now we can live free!!!!!


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