Pointed-keeled Ladybird      Rhyzobius litura

Other Names:  Small Brown Ladybird,  Pointed-keeled Rhyzobius

A common species of grassland habitats.

Identification       Length  2.5-3.0mm

Colour variable. Some are a pale yellow-brown lacking any dark markings.

Others are typically darker, a light oak brown colour, often with a dark U-shaped mark on the hind wing case.

Some have more extensive dark markings and can overlap with paler Round-keeled Ladybirds.

The pronotum (between head and wingcases) is gently curved, often still widening as it reaches the wingcases.

Filsham Reedbeds, E. Sussex
Pigneys Wood, North Walsham, Norfolk
Gifford Wood, Epping Forest, Essex
Gifford Wood, Epping Forest, Essex
Rainham RSPB, Essex
Bowers Marsh, Lee Valley, Herts
Clayton Hill, Lee Valley, Essex

The prosternal keel ( on the underside between the front pair of legs ) forms a narrow triangle with a pointed end. It resembles The Shard building in London.

Underside image taken with digimicroscope
Prosternal keel visible in digital camera image taken in the field

This is a common species of grassland, often found with 16-spot and 24-spot Ladybirds whilst sweep netting.

It can be found by eye, but patience or luck is required.

With 16-spot Ladybird
With 24-spot Ladybird

Often in drier habitats such as hayfields and can be especially common in coastal areas.

Upshire, Essex

Occurs in damper sites, such as edges of ponds and ditches and can also be found in nettle patches.

Can occasionally be found in more mixed habitats, including gardens. I have found them in flower beds whilst clearing out old Daylilys Hemerocallis.

As ladybirds are mobile they can easily turn up in unexpected places and could be found amongst Round-keeled Ladybirds in ornamental shrubs. I have beaten  16-spot Ladybird

(another grassland specialist) out of Firethorn Pyracantha in a garden surrounded by grassland, so whilst habitat is a very good clue, other supporting features need to be checked.

Additional photographs

Pevensey Levels, E. Sussex
Pevensey Levels, E. Sussex
Upshire, Essex

Copyright Andrew Jewels 2019-2020