Hibiscus Sawfly

The hibiscus sawfly is a species known for defoliating hibiscus plants like rose mallow.

Scientific Classification

  • Class:Insecta
  • Order:Hymenoptera
  • Family:Argidae
  • Genus:Atomacera
  • Species:A.decepta

Conservation Status

Not EvaluatedNE

Not Evaluated

Data DeficientDD

Data Deficient

Least ConcernLC

Least Concern

Near ThreatenedNT

Near Threatened





Critically EndangeredCR

Critically Endangered

Extinct in the wildEW

Extinct in the wild




Atomacera decepta

The hibiscus sawfly is 0.19 inches long. They have fat waists and dark wings, making them appear similar to a wasp. The insect’s entire body is black except for an orange spot on the thorax.

Distribution: The United States

Hibiscus Sawfly Picture

Habitat: Wherever Hibiscus flowers are grown

Do they sting: No

Lifespan: 7-9 days

Predator: Birds, shrews, larvae of beetles and flies, etc.

Behavior and Characteristics


Larvae primarily feed on the rose mallow variant of hibiscus as well as other hybrids.

Life Cycle

This sawfly has a life cycle of about 28 days.

1. Egg Stage

Six disc-like eggs are laid in multiple rows in the leaves of the host plant.

Hibiscus Sawfly Larvae

2. Larva Stage

The larvae are yellowish-green, with a dark head and 6-8 black tubular glands on each segment of their bodies. They resemble the larvae of butterflies or moths but can be distinguished from fewer prolegs.

3. Pupa Stage

Once the larvae mature at about 0.5 inches, pupation occurs inside a straw-colored, fibrous cocoon.

Getting Rid of Them

Hibiscus Sawfly Damage

If left unchecked, these sawflies can destroy healthy plants after building up for an extended period. Leaves in which eggs are laid develop brown blisters. As removing the larvae by hand may be impractical, insecticides like acephate, pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and spinosad may be more effective.


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