Pergidae of the World

An online catalogue of the sawfly family Pergidae (Hymenoptera, Symphyta).

by Stefan Schmidt & David R. Smith


Perga dorsalis adult and larvae on eucalypt host plant The Pergidae are, after the Tenthredinidae and the Argidae, the third largest family of Symphyta. Their morphology, habits, and food plants exhibit a diversity which is not found in any other family of the Symphyta.

The Pergidae show a Gondwanan distribution, with the majority of species occurring in South America and Australia, but no species known from Africa. They are the dominant sawfly family in Australia and, with the Tenthredinidae and Argidae, are one of the major families in the Neotropics.

+ + + Updated classification + + +

The classification of the family Pergidae was updated based on the results of a recent phylogenetic analysis, see:

Schmidt, S., Walter, G.H. (2014): Young clades in an old family: major evolutionary transitions and diversification of the eucalypt-feeding pergid sawflies in Australia (Insecta, Hymenoptera, Pergidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (74): 111-121. DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2014.02.002

The analysis included representatives of 13 of the 14 previously recognised subfamilies of Pergidae, almost all of which were supported by the molecular data. Exceptions include the Euryinae (paraphyletic in respect to Perreyiinae), the Acordulecerinae (paraphyletic to the Perginae), and the Australian Phylacteophaginae (placed within the Acordulecerinae).

The calibrated phylogeny of the family indicated that the major lineages within the family evolved during the fragmentation of the Gondwanan supercontinent. The split between the Pergidae and its sister group Argidae was estimated at about 153 Myr ago. No central dichotomous division between Australian and South American pergid sawflies was observed, showing that the major lineages within this group had already evolved by the time Australia had become completely isolated from Antarctica. The molecular dating analysis strongly indicated a co-radiation of Australian pergid sawflies with their Myrtaceae hosts and suggest that the two eucalypt-feeding clades, pergines and pterygophorines, colonised their eucalypt host plants independently during the Palaeocene, at the time when their hosts appear to have started radiating.

The break-up of Gondwana and the timing of the subsequent climatic change in Australia, leading from vegetation adapted to a seasonal-wet conditions to the arid-adapted sclerophyll vegetation typical of Australia, suggest that the species-poor subfamilies occurring in rainforests represent remnants of more diverse groups that were decimated through loss of habitat or host species.

The catalogue

This website provides full information on original descriptions, synonymy, and taxonomic changes, subsequent references, recorded distributions, parasite and food plant data, and remarks on the biology, and taxonomy of certain species. For a few, mainly Australian species images are available.

Totals in this catalogue are 441 species in total, with 34 valid genera and 276 valid species for the Western Hemisphere, and 26 valid genera and 165 valid species for the Australasian Region (see summary table). Of the 165 Australasian species, 140 species occur in Australia and 23 species are confined to Indonesia (Sulawesi, West Papua) and Papua New Guinea.

Original reference

The information provided in this website is based on the following print publication and includes additional information that became available after the catalogue was published:

Schmidt, S. & Smith, D.R. (2006). An annotated systematic world catalogue of the Pergidae (Hymenoptera). Contributions of the American Entomological Institute 34(3): 1-207.

The print catalogue is available for download as PDF (1.3MB).

Please note: the catalogue has been published as a Contribution of the American Entomological Institute, the only definitive repository for the content that has been certified and accepted after peer review. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by the American Entomological Institute. This material may not be copied or reposted without explicit permission. Copyright © 2006 by American Entomological Institute.

Recommended citation

Schmidt, S. & Smith, D.R. 2006. Pergidae of the World - an online catalogue of the sawfly family Pergidae (Insecta, Hymenoptera, Symphyta). World Wide Web electronic publication. [accessed 2-Feb-2009]*

*replace with date of access

The Illustration on this page were taken from: Bennett, G. & Scott, A.W. 1859. Description of a species of Perga, or Saw-fly, found feeding upon the Eucalyptus citriodora of Hooker, or wide bay Lemon-scented Gum-tree. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 27: 209-212.