ELBERT COUNTY – An insect known as the redheaded pine sawfly is eating its way through thousands of trees in Elbert County. It's an infestation that officials say is the worst in seven years.
If you check out the video below, you might be thinking to yourself "wow…these things are pretty gross." And maybe they are, but that doesn't mean they aren't a fascinating part of the insect kingdom.
Check out these 9 facts below if you don't believe us:
1. The redheaded pine sawfly is actually called the Neodiprion lecontei fitch. It was first named in 1858, but serious outbreaks weren't common until the 1930s.
2. The sawfly occurs mainly in the eastern U.S., but like a lot of things from out east, it's moved westward.
3. The redheaded pine sawfly feeds on pretty much any pine, but it's way more picky about where it lays its eggs (mainly on hard pine).
4. Speaking of eggs…the redheaded pine sawflys are about 1.8 millimeters long and 0.6 millimeters in width. The female deposits about 120 of those in the current of previous year's needles.
5. Egg-laying may occur before mating (you read that right) and unfertilized eggs only produce males.
6. Adults are usually 5 to 10 millimeters long. The male is smaller than the female, which is cool.
7. Like most babies, redheaded pine sawfly larvae feed gregariously, and stay on their host for 25 to 30 days.
8. Once they grow up, they drop to the ground and spin their cocoons… a true metaphor for the act of growing up.
9. Redheaded pine sawfly outbreaks happen periodically and subside after a few years. Rodents can destroy large numbers of cocoons, and disease could also put the larvae at risk.
(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)