KEY TO IRISH LADYBIRDS

The Key below covers the species recorded from Ireland, apart from two rare vagrants. A few of the inclusions have only very old records (e.g. 24-spot) but are placed in the Key to cover the possibility that they have been overlooked in recent years and may be present but very local.

At this point it is not intended to include all the British species but if a specimen you have fails to key out satisfactorily please try one of the web sites for British ladybirds listed in 'Links & references'.

The key is not infallible.  Some ladybirds species are very variable in both ground colour and spotting.  An inventory, of Irish colour forms would be desirable but is not available, nor likely to become available for some time.  Please bear this in mind. 

The key is described as a dichomotous key where the user is confronted with descriptors which are in pairs and has to decide which one of the alternatives is the correct one. For example, in couplet 1 if the ladybird is hairy etc then it is a 24-spot. If it is hairless and shining continue on to couplet 2 which leads to either couplet 3 or couplet 6, and so on,  until you have finally  identified your specimen.

If you have a specimen that does not easily match anything in the key it is best to let an expert see it rather than make assumptions about its identity. 

 

Key to Irish ladybirds, by Roy Anderson

(!) indicates unusual or rare varieties

1

Upper surface finely hairy; with a up to 24 black spots; ground colour a dirty brown-red

24-spot
Subcoccinella 24-punctata


24-spot*

Upper surface completely hairless, shining

2

2

Elytra coloured black

3

Elytra paler-coloured, yellow, brown, orange, red, not black

6

3

With pale markings (yellow,orange,red) at the forward angle of the elytra

4

 

Pale markings, if present, never at the forward angle of the elytra

5

4

Legs and underside of abdomen black; may have one, two or three pale markings on each elytron; if one, this is at the forward angle; if two, second is central; if three, third is at tip of elytron

2-spot
Adalia bipunctata


2-spot
[melanic]

Legs brown; underside of abdomen dark brown to orange; elytra usually has only one marking which is broad and curved inwards and forwards from the margin

10-spot
Adalia 10-punctata


10-spot *

5

Body oval with no lip at elytral margins; usually a uniform black, occasionally with small tan markings at the tips of the elytra or (even rarer) at the middle of the sides

Hieroglyphic
Coccinella hieroglyphica


Hieroglyphic [melanic]

Body round and domed; with a well-defined lip around the margins of the elytra; markings always present; form a thin red band or a thin line of small red spots across the middle of the elytra

Heather
Chilocorus bipiustulatus


Heather

6

Elytra a bright orange-red to red colour

7

 

Elytra some other colour cream, yellow, brown

14

7

Spots on elytra pale, 7 or 8 on each elytron; size large (up to 7mm)              

Eyed
Anatis ocellata
(!)

 

Spots on elytra black

8

8

Scutellum with a large black spot extending on to each elytron and smaller triangular white spots on the outer sides of this

9


11-spot

Large scutellar spot absent, or present but without the triangular outer white spots

13

 

9

Definitely more elongate than the common ladybirds, nearly twice as long as broad; usually with six black spots on each elytron as well as the spot at the scutellum

13-spot
Hippodamia 13-punctata


13-spot *

Much less than twice as long as broad; rounded oval shape

10

 

10

Less than 5mm long

11

 

More than 5.5mm long

12

11

With five round spots on each elytron plus scutellar spot; hindmost spots on elytra are occasionally fused to form a black bar; body slightly elongate

11-spot
Coccinella 11-punctata


11-spot *

With three black spots on each elytron plus the scutellar spot; the foremost spot is usually elongate, forming a dark bar; ground colour often less clear red, more bronze or brown

Hieroglyphic
Coccinella hieroglyphica


Hieroglyphic

12

Each elytron with 7 or 8 black spots usually (not always) ringed with cream or yellow; pronotum distinctively marked

Eyed
Anatis ocellata


Eyed

Each elytron with 3 black spots plus scutellar spot; never ringed paler; pronotum different

7-spot
Coccinella 7-punctata


7-spot

13

Legs black; underside of abdomen black; markings variable but usually with a single black spot in the middle of each elytron

2-spot
Adalia 2-punctata

 

Legs some shade of brown though may be blackened on the femora; underside of abdomen brown to orange; spots variable, from 2 to 12 and may form a checker pattern

10-spot
Adalia 10-punctata


10-spot
typical

14

Elytra unmarked except perhaps for some darkening at the suture (where the elytra touch)

15

Elytra with definite darker or lighter spots

16

15

Elytra light brown to pinkish; sometimes with a dark smudge at the suture; pronotum with a distinctive M-shaped marking

Larch
Aphidecta obliterata


Larch

Elytra yellow, orange, orange-brown or reddish; pronotum different with five dark marks

10-spot
Adalia 10-punctata

16

Body elongate and rather flattened; ground colour buff with reddish or yellowish tinge; nine black spots on each elytron plus scutellar spot

Water
Anisosticta 19-punctata


Water *

Body domed and a rounded oval shape

17

 

17

Spots black

18

Spots pale

20

18

Femora of hind legs predominantly black; underside of abdomen mainly black; colour of elytra yellow, orange, orange-brown, red-brown; markings very variable spots may be small or large or mixed, from 2-12 in total, or there may be a dark checkered pattern

10-spot
Adalia 10-punctata

 

Femora of hind legs yellow, orange or brown; underside of abdomen predominantly orange or brown but may be blackish with an orange tip

19

 

19

Elytra bright yellow; with 11 round black spots on each

22-spot
Psyllobora 22-punctata


22-spot *

Elytra yellowish to cream with distinctly rectangular black markings, often fused to form a characteristic checkered pattern

14-spot
Propylea 14-punctata


14-spot

20

Ground colour of elytra orange; with 8, occasionally 7, white spots on each elytron

Orange
Halyzia 16-guttata


Orange

Ground colour of elytra maroon, purple-brown, red-brown to dark brown

21

 

21

Lacking any white spots or patches near or beside the scutellum; elytra maroon or brown with 5 cream, yellow or orange spots on each

10-spot
Adalia 10-punctata
(!)


10-spot
[pale ]

With white spots or markings around the scutellum

22

 

22

Spots streaked or elongated, never all rounded

Striped
Myrrha oblongoguttata


Striped

Spots rounded, rarely several fused to look like streaks

23

 

23

With 6 whitish spots on each elytron plus a rounded scutellar spot on each side of the scutellum; pronotum with white only at the hind corners

Cream-spot
Calvia 14-guttata


Cream-spot

With about 5 whitish spots on elytra plus a series of fused spots on each side of the scutellum forming a distinctive zigzag shape; pronotum broadly pale along the front margin

18-spot
Myrrha 18-guttata


18-spot

Photographs Roy Anderson except those marked with * which are Mike Majerus / UK Ladybird Survey

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