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Heath Ladybird     Scymnus femoralis

Other name:  Heath Scymnus

This is a scarce and tricky to identify species of heathland and grassland, possibly favouring sandy soils. 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 orangey-red face front and corner edges 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 identifiable as they have a large amount of 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.

If using a key that does not include Dusky Ladybird, then it is likely that Dusky Ladybirds will key out as Heath Ladybird.

heath 700_5159.JPG
Typical male markings

Males are a mostly black species with reddish legs.

The red markings on the front of the pronotum are reduced compared to similar species, with just the front corners showing any colour and this can be even less than shown above, with just a hint of colour in the corners.

The head is black with just the front of the face with red markings.

Schmidt's Ladybird can show similar markings but usually with the red on the pronotum corners merging across the front and also has a prosternal keel on the underside which is a diagnostic feature. 


Females (and possibly some males) are all dark, with reddish legs, antennae and front of face.

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Icklingham, Suffolk
Esher Common, Surrey
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Lack of groove along centre of metasturnum

Female type Heath Ladybirds are easily confused with Schmidt's and Dusky Ladybirds.

Schmidt's is different from the other two as it has a groove along the metasternum.

However female Heath and Dusky Ladybirds are currently very difficult to separate in the field.

The pattern of the hairs on the rear of the wing cases might be a useful feature, with Heath only having a slight wave, whilst Dusky shows a strong wave with the rear hairs spreading out to each side.

The exact detail of the leg colouring might prove to be a useful feature but seems to be variable and needs further research.

A great set of photographs of Heath ladybird can be found on the PDF, A Guide to Micro Ladybirds of Shropshire by Maria Justamond and David W. Williams


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.

Photo by Mark Hows
Icklingham, The Brecks, Suffolk
Continental Specimens

On the continent some males have more orange on the front of the pronotum and a completely orange head.

This form is unlikely to occur in the UK but its existence in the literature has probably added to the confusion with Dusky Ladybird, even though they are quite different. 

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Continental male markings
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