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Vernacular Names

The inconspicuous ladybirds have traditionally not had English vernacular names.

As I started publishing photographs on the internet in the hope of encouraging others to study these species, I created my own vernacular names. This was to help demystify these species, as some of the scientific names are very long winded and off putting.

It was also to help internet search engines to find the photos by including the word ladybird in the name.

With the publication of the Identification Guide, Roy and Brown (2018), we saw the first attempt at creating a published list of English names.

Many of these were different to the ones I had got used to but I have mostly adopted the new names, with some caveats.

We have long been used to 7-spot, 14-spot and Cream-spot, for example, so for consistency I feel we should be using 4-spot, False-spot and Angle-spot, instead of Four-spotted, False-spotted and Angle-spotted. Otherwise for consistency we need to adopt Seven-spotted etc.

If we do not bring these into line then the inconspicuous ladybirds will always remain the poor relatives of the Coccinellidae.

I feel each species should have ladybird in the name, as this works better when searching images on the internet.

Red-flanked Ladybird Scymnus interruptus is less clumsy than 

Red-flanked Scymnus Scymnus interruptus a species of ladybird.

There are a few problems with this approach as we end up with:

4-spot Ladybird        Nephus quadrimaculatus

2-spot Ladybird        Nephus bisignatus

Pine Ladybird           Scymnus suturalis

As 4-spot Ladybird is also an alternative name for Cream-streaked Ladybird and the 

other two names are already taken, I would suggest :

Ivy Ladybird              Nephus quadrimaculatus

Rear-spot Ladybird  Nephus bisignatus

Conifer Ladybird      Scymnus suturalis

wa nephus quadrimaculatus_4355.JPG
Ivy Ladybird or Four-spotted Nephus?

In the early days of English vernacular names for dragonflies and damselflies, we saw such names as: Norfolk Aeshna, Banded Agrion and Common Coenagrion.

These names did not last in the long term as they were still off putting for the general public, whilst traditional entomologists carried on using the scientific names.

(The demoiselles have since had there genus changed from Agrion to Calopteryx, another issue with this system).

We could speed the process up for ladybirds, by replacing the genus with the word ladybird, in all examples, now, rather than waiting for it to happen anyway.

This is not a large group of species, so it is not necessary to split it up.

Rhyzobius forestieri and Rhyzobius litura do not even resemble each other, so emphasising there close relationship does not help in the identification process.

FG_9174 (2).JPG
Banded Demoiselle or Banded Agrion?

Rhyzobius litura was the only inconspicuous ladybird with a previous vernacular name, Small Brown Ladybird. To link the species pair, I had coined the name, Cryptic Brown Ladybird for Rhyzobius chrysomeloides.

The Field Guide, Roy and Brown 2018 recommended the names Pointed-keeled Rhyzobius for R. litura and Round-keeled Ladybird for R.chrysomeloides.

I started using these names, with the small variation of replacing Rhyzobius with Ladybird, as I was trying to help bring some stability to the new vernacular names.

However, in 2020 I was reviewing the identification and recording history of these two species and concluded that the over reliance on the shape of the prosternal keel as the main identification feature was hindering the identification and recording process.

I have now settled on Meadow Ladybird for R. litura and Epaulet Ladybird for R. chrysomeloides. 

Meadow Ladybird describes the general habitat favoured by this species and Epaulet Ladybird describes the easily visible feature that identifies the majority of individuals.

These names are also more easily understood when showing these two common species to interested members of the public, whilst out recording in public open spaces.

1 brox rhyzobius chrysomeloides_4265.JPG
Round-keeled Rhyzobius or Epaulet Ladybird?

In 2022 Maria Justamond and David W Williams suggested Arboreal Ladybird as a vernacular name for Rhyzobius chrysomeloides . This alternative works well, as it emphasises the main habitat difference compared to Meadow Ladybird.

The vernacular names of inconspicuous ladybirds are still in a state of flux, but with time will probably settle down. As more field guides include these species a general consensus may be reached.

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