Black Ladybird  Scymnus nigrinus

Other name: Black Scymnus

This is a surprisingly elusive specialist of pine trees.

The first one I saw was found by Mark Hows at Thetford Warren Lodge, The Brecks, West Suffolk.

In 2020 Mark and I found two more in similar habitat, at Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk. Both were beaten from small pine trees in open heathland.

In 2021 Mark found two more at Santon Downham and we also found two more at Thetford Warren Lodge, so these two sites appear to be reliable.

Small scattered pine trees in areas of heathland seem to be the best habitat to search.

Identification        Length  2.0-2.8mm

An all black species. The diagnostic feature is the legs, these are black with only the feet a pale brown. All the similar species have yellow, reddish or brown legs.

This is quite a large species, compared to other all dark species and I nearly overlooked one I found at Santon Downham as a look-alike beetle species.

The all black wing cases have a metallic sheen, which also gives this species a slightly different look.

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Photo by Mark Hows
Thetford Warren,The Brecks, West Suffolk
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Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk
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Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk
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Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk
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Photo by Mark Hows
Santon Downham, West Norfolk
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Photo by Mark Hows
Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk
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Thetford Warren Lodge, The Brecks, West Suffolk
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Thetford Warren Lodge, The Brecks, West Suffolk
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Thetford Warren Lodge, The Brecks, West Suffolk
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Photo by Mark Hows
Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Suffolk
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Photo by Mark Hows
Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk
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Thetford Warren Lodge, The Brecks, West Putford
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Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk
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Photo by Mark Hows
Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk
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Photo by Mark Hows
Santon Downham, West Norfolk
Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk

Habitat

This is a pine tree specialist, although it is rarely easy to find.

Areas worth searching include the Surrey heathlands, The Brecks and the Caledonian forest of the Scottish Highlands.

The only ones I have seen have all been found in small pine trees in open heathland, near to mature pine trees. Black Ladybird does seem to favour this habitat, but it might also be that they are easier to locate in the smaller trees.

Regular rows of small plantation trees have failed to produce this species, scattered self sown trees seem to be more reliable.

They have also been reported in surrounding patches of gorse in the same habitats.

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Photo by Mark Hows
Scattered small pine trees.
Thetford Warren, The Brecks, West Suffolk
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Scattered small pine trees
Thetford Warren, The Brecks, West Suffolk
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Scattered small pine trees
Thetford Warren, The Brecks, West Suffolk
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Small pine tree on edge of heathland
Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk
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Small pine tree in open heathland
Santon Downham, The Brecks, West Norfolk