New York State just got another destructive invasive pest, as if we needed any more. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced that the elm zigzag sawfly has been found in the state for the first time. It was detected at three locations in St. Lawrence County, including Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area, Brasher State Forest, and Lost Nation State Forest.

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Native to East Asia, the elm zigzag sawfly eats elm trees and can cause severe damage, including defoliation, branch dieback, and crown thinning. While the sawfly does not kill the elm trees it feeds on, it puts added stress on native elm trees, which have already suffered due to Dutch elm disease. New York State DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said,

Assessing threats to the health of our forests and street trees is essential for maintaining the immeasurable benefits they provide. DEC will continue to investigate the potential threat of elm zigzag sawfly to determine if management actions are needed to protect New York's elms and the variety of wildlife that depend on these trees.

How Invasive Is The Elm Zigzag Sawfly?

The elm zigzag sawfly was found in southern Québec in 2020. DEC's Division of Lands and Forests started surveying for it the Canadian-U.S. border in 2021. It can potentially fly up to 56 miles in a year (possibly more with the help of wind). They can also spread throughout the state on infested nursery stock. The female sawfly can law up to 60 eggs at a time and produce four to six generations a year.

If you spot the elm zigzag sawfly you can report it here.


Credit: Jen Sanford via Youtube

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