About this Website.
In 2010 I photographed an unusual tiny beetle that I found whilst gardening in Chingford, Essex. After some time I was able to identify it as Scymnus interruptus. This sparked an interest in the fascinating, though largely unknown, inconspicuous ladybirds (small and often dull coloured species), that had been ignored in the popular field guides and had no English vernacular names at that time.
My first inconspicuous ladybird 20/08/2010 Chingford, Essex
My recording area is centered around Waltham Abbey and includes the Lee Valley and Epping Forest and borders Hertfordshire, Essex and N. London.
I work as a self-employed gardener and this has helped me find many ladybirds and I soon discovered that checking garden wheelie bins after filling them with hedge prunings was a very useful way of recording otherwise elusive species.
I also started exploring other habitats, although I soon realised how little information was avaliable concerning where and when to look for the species I had yet to find.
The publication of the Ladybird Atlas (2011) was the first opportunity to see all the inconspicuous ladybirds covered and in most cases photographed.
With this and additional internet research it quickly became obvious that whilst some species were well understood, e.g. Meadow and Red Marsh Ladybirds, others were poorly known, e.g. False-spot and Schmidt's Ladybirds. Brett Westwood describes False-spot Ladybird as almost mythical which is an apt description.
This website is intended as a portal for me to share my experiences and thoughts on recording and identifying inconspicuous ladybirds.
The near mythical False-spot Ladybird Canvey Wick, Essex
More recently the publication of the Field Guide to the Ladybirds of Great Britain and Ireland (2018) Roy and Brown, with excellent illustrations by Richard Lewington, has been a large step forward.
It has also highlighted where the gaps in our knowledge are. One of the issues mentioned is the lack of reliable photographs of the inconspicuous ladybirds, so this is something I have tried to address. I have included a series of photographs for the species that I have so far managed to find. A few of my identifications are based on a combination of visual clues and habitat, so these may be classified as speculative, rather than scientific. I have highlighted this in the species accounts and these include Dusky and Bordered Ladybirds.
Presumed Dusky Ladybird Waltham Abbey, Essex
The inconspicuous ladybirds have traditionally been identified by the use of scientific dichotomous keys which require specimens and microscopes.
I have tried to identify as many species as possible using features that are visible to the naked eye, or low level magnification, either using an eye lens or digital macro photography.
Finding a combination of diagnostic features for each species has not proved possible.
However, I think that the majority of species are currently identifiable in the field and it may be possible to find criteria for at least some of the remaining species, as they become better studied.