Tips for using the Sawfly GenUS keys

This Lucid identification key is flexible and multi-tiered. It simplifies and expedites identification, allowing you to select diagnostic characters and generate a list of species that possess those features. Consult 'Help' from the Lucid interactive key menu at any time.

How do I choose characters and states? Select the characters (or "features") that are most obvious or the most simple to interpret. Although characters are listed in a certain manner, you may choose characters in the order you wish. It’s OK to skip the character if your specimen is broken or does not show a character–it’s better than guessing! The same is true if you do not understand a character or its various states. The glossary and illustrations may help you interpret characters. But if not, then just skip it! Lucid allows you to choose multiple states of a character. For example, if some specimens are blue-green and others are half blue and half green, then you would select both green and blue states.

What about numeric characters? Some characters are numeric and require that you to enter a number. Measurements are in millimeters.

How do I use Lucid's “Best” tool? After you have selected several character states and you have a shorter list of taxa, you can use the Lucid’s “Best” tool to assess which of the remaining characters and states will assist you in identification. This will help you determine the most efficient next step.

How do I determine whether I've found the correct identification? After choosing characters and states, you may or may not end up with a single result under Entities remaining. In either case, you can compare the entity images with your specimen, or you can compare the descriptions from the fact sheets. Additional references in the fact sheet will allow you to retrieve more information about the species. However, all identifications should be confirmed by a sswfly expert.

How can I learn sawfly species? Familiarize yourself with sawfly families on the Is this a sawfly page. You can also browse the image gallery and the fact sheets to get a sense of the different types of sawflies included in this tool. You can click through the fact sheets alphabetically (use the “previous” or “next” buttons), or you can use the search function to investigate a subset of species (e.g., “woodwasp” or “Diprionidae”).

Key to genera of North America

The key and fact sheets only include genera that occur north of the US/Mexico border.

Key to Sirex species of the World

Sirex is a group of medium to large horntails that are, in general, very similar in appearance. Take this in mind when using the key, as the you may not be able to quickly get to a single species as the answer. You are encouraged to read the fact sheets and verify the diagnostic characters to come to a final identification.

The genus Sirex includes several species that are unconfirmed through genetic analysis and several that are only known from a few specimens. Rarely collected species are represented in the key by a black and white silhouette. If your specimen keys out to one of these species, we suggest you review the fact sheet carefully, and try the key a second time, especially if the geographical location is unknown. If you are relatively certain that you have one of these rare species, we encourage you to contact a local sawfly expert or the authors of this key for confirmation.

Several species’ males and one species' female are omitted from the key because they are not described. This includes the Sirex sinicus female, S. carinthiacus male, S. hispaniola male, S. mongolorum male, and S. piceus male. Please read the fact sheets for more information on these species.