Oak Ladybird  Scymnus auritus

Other name:  Oak Scymnus

This species is strongly associated with oaks, but can be tricky to locate.

Identification      Length  2.0-2.3mm

A mostly black species with a wide oval shape when viewed from above and highly domed across the wing cases when viewed from the front.

The legs are reddish brown.

Males have an orangey-red face and front edge to the pronotum, (section behind the head).

Females lack the red colour at the front.

The distinctive feature is the red tip to the rear abdomen. This can sometimes be seen protruding beyond the end of the wing cases, otherwise visible when the underside is examined. This feature can be hard to see on some of the darkest specimens.

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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley,                                  South Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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        Distinctive reddish tip to abdomen      Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, North Essex
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With Conifer Ladybird
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With Epaulet Ladybird
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Larva.    Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
Male     Upshire, North Essex

Habitat

Strongly associated with oaks.

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                         Small oak in pine copse
Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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                         Small oak amongst willows
Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, North Essex
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           Oak tree branch growing through Scots Pine tree
                          Woodredon, Epping Forest, North Essex
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           Oak tree in tall mixed hedgerow
Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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                          Small oak in sheltered ride
Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, South Essex
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                                     South facing oak
Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Photo by Mark Hows
        Oak tree in hedgerow
Conard Mere, West Suffolk

I have beaten a lot of oak branches without seeing this species, so it can require quite a lot of effort to find.

Prior to 2019 I had only found it on one reliable branch at Fishers Green, Essex.

This small tree produced records during 2015-2017 and 2019, with a maximum of 12 on one day and also one larva. This sort of site fidelity is typical of inconspicuous ladybirds.

In 2019 I found two more sites nearby, both on low branches of small oaks.

In 2020 I found a male Oak Ladybird in a branch of a Scots Pine tree. This was a surprise until I took a step back and realised that an oak tree was growing amongst the pine branches.

This is similar to the Fishers Green site were the oak tree is surrounded by pines. This might just be coincidence but could be a habitat clue to help locate this species.

In areas with a lot of mature oaks it is quite possible that any Oak Ladybirds would be up high in the canopy in the sunlight, in the same area as Purple Hairstreaks. If this were the case then it would of course put them out of reach.

Additional photographs

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Woodredon, Epping Forest, North Essex
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Woodredon, Epping Forest, North Essex
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Woodredon, Epping Forest, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, South Essex
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Photo by Mark Hows
Conard Mere, West Suffolk
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Fishers Green, Lee Valley, North Essex
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Sewardstone, Lee Valley, South Essex
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Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, Sewardstone, South Essex
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Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, Sewardstone, South Essex
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Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, Sewardstone, South Essex
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Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, Sewardstone, South Essex
Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, Sewardstone, South Essex
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Gunpowder Park, Lee Valley, Sewardstone, South Essex