Ladybirds are brightly coloured beetles which most people will recognise. They are round in shape with a dome shaped wing casing. The colour on the different species of ladybirds wing casing can vary in colour and in most cases have spots on them. The background colour can be varying shades of brown, or orange, black, red or yellow. The spots are usually black, white, red or black with an orange ring around them, so as you can see they vary quite a lot. There are about 43 species of ladybirds in the UK usually called by the number of spots they have, i.e. seven spot or two spot. I am always sceptical when I see an exact number quoted for species, especially when you see them quoted on the Internet as sometimes it is not possible to see what date the figure was given and they can fluctuate. For example, a few years ago when I was a member of a bat group there were 15 species in the UK, now it seems there are 18.
Unfortunately there is a threat to our native species in the form of the introduced ‘Harlequin ladybird’ (harmonia axyridis) which was imported to the UK from Asia for pest control purposes (which is usually a very bad idea), also known by the name of multicoloured Asian ladybird and the halloween ladybird. Unfortunately this invading ladybird is larger than our own and is a predator. It also takes many guises so it can be quite difficult to tell them apart. To help you I have listed the differences to my best ability. If you spot (excuse the pun) any mistakes I have made with the description of any of the pictures, please inform me as I don’t claim to be a ladybird expert. For more precise information visit the
UK ladybird survey click HERE.
Click on pictures below to enlarge (only when NOT in slideshow mode).