Red-patched Ladybird  Nephus redtenbacheri

Other name: Red-patched Nephus

This species can be locally common in a variety of natural habitats, including sand dunes, grassland and heathland.

Identification        Length  1.3-2.3mm

This is a black species with a large reddish patch on each wing case.

These often curve around to nearly meet at the rear. Viewed together from above these patches often resemble a horse-yolk or can be shield shaped.

Individually they are often kidney shaped.

Red-patched Ladybird is a small species, sometimes as tiny as Dot and Horseshoe Ladybirds.

The antennae are very short, not much wider than the eyes.

The wide head and relatively long pronotum can give this species a distinctive bull-necked appearance, especially when viewed from the front, with the front end appearing to large for the small body.

The Sea-lavender Ladybird is visually identical but is strongly associated with Sea-lavender, although this habitat could occur closely with the coastal grassland that Red-patched Ladybird might inhabit.

Some Bordered Ladybirds can be very similar, habitat differences can again be a useful clue, with this species occuring in willows and poplars in wetland habitats.

Nazeing, Essex
Photo by Mark Hows
The Brecks
Photo by Mark Hows
The Brecks
Photo by mark Hows
The Brecks
Fishers Green, Lee Valley, Essex
Fishers Green, Lee Valley, Essex
Fishers Green, Lee Valley, Essex
Fishers Green, Lee Valley, Essex
Showing bull-necked appearance
Fishers Green, Lee Valley, Essex

Habitat

Unusually for an inconspicuous ladybird this species is a habitat generalist but it is most easily found in open habitats including coastal grassland, heathland and sand dunes. 

In The Brecks it can be found in the grassy areas amongst small scattered pine trees as well as actually in the pine trees.

Photo by Mark Hows
Mix of grasses and small pine trees
May Day Farm, The Brecks, Norfolk

As a habitat generalist this species is likely to occur in gardens, although I have only seen it once whilst gardening. On 3rd August 2017 I was pruning ornamental shrubs in Nazeing, Essex. I was finding many Red-flanked Ladybirds exiting the wheelie bin containing the prunings. As I was being paid to garden and not watch ladybirds I photographed a few examples as quickly as possible, including what I thought was the pale form of Red-flanked. Looking through the images on the camera a few hours later I discovered that I had in fact photographed a Red-patched Ladybird. It does not pay to get complacent when recording inconspicuous ladybirds, concentration is required at all times.

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In 2020 I finally found this species in the Lee Valley. This was in a small patch of recently discovered habitat at Fishers Green, in an area that had already proved reliable for Red-rumped and Angle-spot Ladybirds.

An area of sandy soil with open sparse grassland contained a small damp flush that had dried out in drought conditions. All the best ladybird finds were concentrated in this small patch of habitat, typical of the very localised site fidelity of inconspicuous ladybirds.

Slightly damp hollow in area of dry grassland                       Fishers Green, Lee Valley, Essex

Copyright Andrew Jewels 2019-2020