Since I found my first inconspicuous ladybirds I have been submitting my records to the UK Ladybird Survey.
I submit my records via the irecord website
Once a record has been verified it will be added to the species maps on the National Biodiversity Network Atlas These maps are a very useful resource when looking for areas to search for new species. The maps also show areas where species have not been recorded and would benefit from some recording effort.
On the irecord website the page for submitting casual records is very easy to use with question boxes for date, species, photos, location, habitat etc.
Whilst it is not required to submit a photo with each record, I always enclose one or more photos to help the verification process. I crop these down as tightly as possible to make the process as easy as possible.
Red Marsh Ladybird
I submit the majority of the conspicuous ladybirds that I find, although with some of the commoner species, including 7-spot and Harlequin Ladybirds, I only submit the most significant records, especially range extensions.
Provided that I manage to obtain a photograph, I submit all my inconspicuous ladybird finds. Even when recording in the same location, each record adds to our knowledge of numbers and seasonality.
Harlequin and 7-spot Ladybirds are well recorded by both the public and field naturalists.
The other conspicuous ladybirds are mostly easy to identify, with a few tricky species, although these are well covered by field guides, especially Roy and Brown (2018).
The inconspicuous ladybirds are a more difficult group to break into, although Red Marsh, Ivy and Conifer Ladybirds are good species to start with. They are all quite common, easy to find and straight forward to identify. Forestier's Ladybird seems to be spreading rapidly and is easy to identify so is likely to be another good starter species.
Some of the rarest and difficult to identify species, such as Dusky Ladybird, will probably remain the domain of coleopterists with specialist microscopes and dissecting equipment.
Working out what is recordable based on photographs, rather than specimens, is largely what spurred me on to produce this website.
Epaulet Ladybird is an interesting species. It is very common in my recording area yet there are relatively few records on the NBN Atlas.
It has a reputation for being difficult to identify which has probably limited the number of submitted records.
Until recently I have only submitted a few records each year, as I was trying to get a photo of the prosternal keel of each specimen, to support each one.
I realised this was reinforcing the idea that this is a scarce species.
In 2019 I decided to submit all my records of this species, providing I had a decent supporting photograph showing the distinctive features and markings.
My total of submitted records for Epaulet Ladybird was 176 in 2019 and 318 in 2020.