Adventive, Established and Native Species
There is an important distinction between these different groups that I discuss in some of the species accounts, though the definitions that I am using need explaining.
Adventive species are species that have arrived in a new region, either naturally or with the help of human activity.
In the strict sense it refers to populations that have not established, although I have used it to refer to the new arrivals that may have established but are still mostly associated with man made habitats, including gardens. These can also be referred to as established or naturalised.
These are all in contrast with the native species.
When I first started recording inconspicuous ladybird species in gardens on the northern edge of London, I was surprised by which species I was recording. I quickly started finding Red-flanked Ladybird and Epaulet Ladybird in larger numbers than I would have expected for species described as scarce.
I was also confused by the lack of commoner species, such as Red-patched and Angle-spot Ladybirds when I started sweep netting in my local grassland habitats.
Red-flanked Ladybird Common in London gardens
When I started posting photographs of inconspicuous ladybirds online I was contacted by Mark Hows from Cambridgeshire who travelled down to see some of these species, including Red-flanked, Epaulet and later on Forestier's Ladybirds.
When Mark started searching his local patch, based around The Brecks, he quickly discovered that Angle-spot and Red-patched Ladybirds were regular species and after a lot of recording effort was able to find Schmidt's Ladybird.
Angle-spot Ladybird Common in The Brecks
My conclusion to all this is not very surprising, what counts as common depends very much on which habitats and what area you are recording in.
Angle-spot Ladybird has a large number of records as it is a native species of semi-natural grasslands that has a long history of recording effort.
Red-flanked Ladybird is a recent arrival strongly associated with gardens and parks, the total number of records is still relatively low but is far more likely to be found by a recorder starting off by recording the species in their gardens than Angle-spot.
Any one starting off recording inconspicuous ladybirds in the gardens of towns and cities in southern England can expect to find a suite of adventive and established species, including Epaulet, Red-flanked, Forestier's and possibly Dusky Ladybirds.
There is also the chance of finding new species, including one off escapes from species used for biological control or species imported with plants and produce.
In order to find some of the commoner native species it is neccesary to search good quality semi-natural habitats including heathland, sand dunes and grassland, especially chalk or coastal.
There is a recurring theme in ladybird recording, each new species takes a while to find its way into the literature and updated keys and initially is confused with the closest native species.
I have been trying to use my online presence to highlight the various confusion species as they arise.
To date in rough order the main issues have been:
typical Red-flanked Ladybird confused with Angle-spot Ladybird,
Epaulet Ladybird confused with Meadow Ladybird,
pale Red-flanked Ladybird confused with Conifer Ladybird and
Dusky Ladybird confused with Heath Ladybird.