For the first few years of recording ladybirds I was finding species in garden wheelie bins and searching by eye.
When I bought my first sweep net, my perception of how common certain species are changed greatly.
Pointed-keeled and 16-spot Ladybirds went from a few records a year, to extremly easy to find at will, in the right habitat and season.
When sweeping the net through grass, it is worth remembering that some inconspicuous species keep low down to the ground. In areas with sparse vegetation it is possible to skim the net as close to the ground as possible, although this is more difficult in tall tussocky grassland.
Photo by Dave Miller
I use a pale food container as a tray to tip the contents of the sweep net into.
Lots of assorted insects tipped into a tray.
It is very important to keep looking at the contents for a while, it is tempting to dismiss the catch as unsuccesful too quickly.
Some of the inconspicuous ladybirds are very small and may stay still for a while before attracting attention by moving about.
Pointed-keeled Ladybird in sorting tray.
There are many species of tiny beetles, including flea beetles and pollen beetles, which can be abundant in some habitats. Experience will help when sorting through by eye, looking for target species.
Ladybirds do have a distinctive look and way of moving, but care is needed not to overlook them amongst all the other insect activity.