Segmented light-brown larvae with regular pattern of dark spots evenly distributed on each segment and a dark head and collar.
No interactions present.
Wild Flower Society member
I've looked up sawfly larvae and they seem to vary enormously. Gardeners and farmers seem to agree, though, that they are bad news.
Does anyone know what the characteristic features of sawfly larvae are? How could I tell in future that I had found a sawfly larvae and not a caterpillar?
I wouldn't rule out sawfly as a possibility, but some of the noctuid moths look very much like this as well, e.g. Dark Arches, and I think that is more likely in this case. Where did you find it, on a plant, or in the ground?
To tell sawflies from moth caterpillars you need to look at the legs - both groups have three pairs of 'true legs' at the front (which will develop into the legs of the adult insect), but look at the fleshy 'prolegs' running towards the back of the larva - moths have up to five pairs (including the final pair right at the tip of the body), while nearly all sawflies have six or more pairs.
Entomologist and biological recorder
Next time, I'll remember to take a picture that includes the legs as well.
We think we found it crawling across a path - which is why we noticed it in the first place.
Lat/Lng: 52.1, -0.9
OS grid ref: SP8052