False-spot Ladybird Hyperaspis pseudopustulata
Other name: False-spotted Ladybird
This is a difficult species to find, that occurs in two distinct habitats, grassland and wetlands.
I have only seen one, found by Mark Hows, when we made a speculative visit to Canvey Wick, Essex. This excellent reserve also produced an Ant-nest Ladybird on the same visit.
Identification Length 3.0-4.0mm
Distinctive when seen well but very easy to overlook as at first glance looks like many other species of shiny black oval beetles.
Unlike other inconspicuous ladybirds, it is hairless.
Two red spots on the rear of the wing cases and red cheeks, ( the outer edge of the pronotum).
The one I photographed showed a black face with a yellow stripe running along the front of the pronotum.
A photograph by Richard Comont in the Atlas (2011) shows a red face and leading edge to the pronotum, whilst this area is all black in the illustration by Richard Lewington in The Fieldguide (2018). This is obviously a variable feature. There are very few published photos of live UK specimens.
Mark and I only managed a couple of photographs each, before our specimen suddenly flew.
Canvey Wick, Essex
Canvey Wick, Essex
False-spot Ladybird seems to have two distinct habitats.
One population occurs in dry grasslands, both coastal and inland chalk.
It also occurs in wetland habitats, including reedbeds.
Short dry mixed vegetation on brownfield site
Canvey Wick, South Essex
Hyperaspis in Europe
Despite the two different habitats, it is assumed that the UK has one species of Hyperaspis, the False-spot Ladybird H. psuedopustulatus.
On mainland Europe there are several lookalike species with a rather confusing taxonomic situation.
In central Europe, False-spot Ladybird Hyperaspis pseudopustulata is described as a rare species of wetland margins.
There are several similar looking continental species described as common that occur in dry open habitats, including H. reppensis and H. campestris.
(Although H. reppensis may be a synonym for H. psuedopustulata, making this a widespread European species).
In May 2023, I was looking for ladybirds in the resort of Punta Prima, Menorca, Spain when I tapped a Hyperaspis ladybird out of dry scrub on the side of a tarmac track.
I do not know which species this is but have included some photos because apart from the large size of the rear spots, this is quite similar to UK specimens.