Heath Ladybird     Scymnus femoralis

Other name:  Heath Scymnus

This is a scarce and tricky to identify species of heathland and grassland. I have not seen it in my recording area but it occurs in The Brecks and on the Surrey heaths.

Identification        Length  1.8-2.2mm

Male Heath Ladybirds are black with reddish legs and have an orangy-red face and narrow front edge to the pronotum (section between head and wing cases).

Females are all black with reddish legs, although some males may also have an all black colour form.

The two confusion species are Schmidt's Ladybird and Dusky Ladybird.

Schmidt's can be eliminated easily as it has a groove down the centre of the metasternum.

Dusky is more problematic.

Male Dusky are probably identifiable in most cases as they have more orange-red on the pronotum, two thirds of the front are reddish with a black wedge in the centre of the rear edge.

The females of Heath and Dusky are very difficult to separate, although habitat can be useful clue.

heath 700_7716.JPG
Typical male markings
brecks_6623.JPG
Icklingham, Suffolk
esher_0675.JPG
Esher Common, Surrey
x esher_0647.JPG
Lack of groove along centre of metasturnum

Habitat

Habitat is an important clue for this species, especially to distinguish from female Dusky Ladybird.

Heath Ladybird is a species of semi-natural heathland and grassland, where as Dusky occurs in gardens and man-made habitats in the London area.

My recording area includes grassland on clay soils and is probably unsuitable for Heath Ladybird.

The first one I saw was on Esher Common, Surrey, beaten from the low branches of a small pine tree on heathland, found by Mark Hows.

The second was also found by Mark, swept from chalk grassland at Icklingham, Suffolk.

thumbnail_Icklingham.jpg
Photo by Mark Hows
Icklingham, The Brecks, Suffolk