Family common name: common sawflies
Genus: Phymatocera Dahlbom, 1835
The Tenthredinidae are the most species-rich family and are found throughout the world, in all continents but Antarctica. They are known as the “common sawflies.” They can generally be recognized by a cylindrical body and long, segmented antennae. Otherwise, they come in a variety of colors, sizes, and forms (Goulet 1992).
Sawflies in the subfamily Blennocampinae have a diverse set of life histories and habits. Many species are restricted to subtropical and tropical regions, but the genus is still fairly species-rich in North America. Blennocampinae includes many sawflies that feed on ornamental and forestry crops. This subfamily can be recognized by wing venation and bidentate mandibles (Smith 1969d).
Phymatocera are medium-sized, about 6.5–8.5 mm in length, and almost entirely black with darkened wings (Smith 1969d).
A key to North American species is included in Goulet 1981b.
Phymatocera can be confused with similar species in the subfamily Blennocampinae. It can be distinguished from most other genera by the developed pulvilli on basal tarsomeres, and the furcate stub of veins 2A and 3A of the fore wing. Because of intra-species variation in external characters, Phymatocera and Paracharactus can only be positively distinguished by genitalia characteristics (Smith 1969d).
In North America, Phymatocera feeds on Smilacina (false Solomon's seal) (Goulet 1992).
The specific life histories for North American Phymatocera are not known.
The host plant of Phymatocera is toxic. There is evidence that feeding larvae may be able to sequester toxic compounds into their bodies as a defense, in a manner similar to closely related Rhadinoceraea. Larvae of P. aterrima, a European species, when approached by a predator show easy bleeding habits, which are often tied to toxic or distasteful hemolymph (Schaffner and Boevé 1996).
World: This genus is known from North America, Europe, through Russia, and in China and Japan (Taeger et al. 2018).
North America: Phymatocera occurs throughout the United States and southern Canada, with the most northern records in British Columbia (Smith 1969d).
Map data from: GBIF.org (29 October 2019) GBIF Occurrence Download Phymatatocera
Details about data used for maps can be found here.