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
The females of Heath Ladybird are all black with pale legs. The males have an orangy-red face and front edge to the pronotum (section between head and wingcases).
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.
Esher Common, Surrey
Lack of groove along centre of metasturnum
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.