Ant-nest Ladybird      Platynaspis luteorubra

Identification            Length 2.5-3.5mm

Ant-nest Ladybird is related to the common Pine and Kidney-spot Ladybirds but its small size, hairy wing cases and red spots mean it is more likely to be confused with one of the inconspicuous ladybird species. It is also elusive and has not featured in many older field guides so is not well known.

There are two red spots on each black wing case. These are distinctive as they are large and circular. This species is sometimes confused with Angle-spot Ladybird, although these only have one spot on each wing case ( some continental specimens have two ).

The diagnostic feature is the buff edges to the pronotum, "cheek area", whilst males are even more distinctive as they also have buff on the frons, "face area".

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Canvey Wick, Essex
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Canvey Wick, Essex
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Canvey Wick, Essex
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May Day Farm, Suffolk
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May Day Farm, Suffolk
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With 16-spot Ladybird

Habitat

This species is associated with ants and I have searched for it unsuccesfully by turning over garden slabs covering ant nests. 

The only two that I have seen were both found by Mark Hows, whilst sweep netting in dry grassland situations. The one at Canvey Wick was in sparse vegetation on a species rich brownfield reserve, whilst the one at May Day Farm was in a clearing containing scattered small pine trees.

Mark has also found this species at Cranwich Camp in The Brecks, in an area of short turf.

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Photo by Mark Hows
Cranwich Camp, The Brecks, Norfolk