Ladybirds are attractive and familiar insects, easy to observe and less threatening in appearance than most other beetles. An additional point in their favour, especially for gardeners, is that the adults and larvae of most species feed on aphids (greenfly and whitefly). One exception is the Orange ladybird that feeds mainly on mildew, especially that on Sycamore leaves, though it will also take small aphids.
Ladybirds belong to the beetle family Coccinellidae. There are forty-six species of this family resident in Britain, but not all are readily recognisable as ladybirds. Most have common names referring to the number or colour of their spots. However, simply counting the spots is not a reliable way of identifying species. The majority of species have a considerable range of variation in number of spots, it is common for spots to merge into one another, and many species have melanistic (blackish) forms. Nonetheless, ladybirds are not too difficult to identify.
Order Coleoptera (beetles)
Family Coccinellidae (ladybirds)
10-spot ladybird Adalia 10-punctata
2-spot ladybird Adalia 2-punctata
Eyed ladybird Anatis ocellata
Larch ladybird Aphidecta obliterate
Cream-spot ladybird Calvia 14-guttata
7-spot ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata
Hieroglyphic ladybird Coccinella hieroglyphica
Orange ladybird Halyzia 16-guttata
24-spot ladybird Subcoccinella 24-punctata
Collis, G & Collis, D. (2008). Ladybirds of Bute. Transactions of the Buteshire Natural History Society 27, 91. pdf
Plus subsequent additional records
Roy, H.E., Brown, P.M.J.,Frost, R. & Poland, R.L. (2011). The Ladybirds (Coccinellidae) of Britain and Ireland. Preston Montford: Field Studies Council.
Roy, H.E., Brown, P.M.J., Comont, R.F. Poland, R.L. & Sloggett, J.J. (2013) Ladybirds (Naturalists’ Handbooks 10). Exeter: Pelagic Books. (This is a revised version of the 1989 book of the same title by Majerus & Kearns.)
Last updated May 2013