Ladybirds

Ladybirds are perhaps the first beetles that anyone ever learns to identify – but there are an amazing number of different species – supposedly 19 in Ireland. For the most common species, the 7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata), the National Biodiversity Data Centre has had 280 records submitted this year, but for many other species there’s only one or two records. Can you spot a ladybird (my best pun yet) and submit your records to help with their Ladybird Atlas 2025 project?

National Biodiversity Data Centre: Submit Ladybird Records Here

Of course, to be able to identify ladybirds, you need an identification key. There’s a key on the National Museums of Northern Ireland ‘habitas’ site. The photos in this key look really small, but if you click on them you get nice big versions! The habitas site hasn’t been updated for a long time but it’s still a useful resource.

If you want to know even more about a particular species, check out the species pages on the National Biodiversity Data Centre website here: Ireland’s ladybird species. If you think you’ve found a species not on this list, why not try the UK Beetle Recording Site. Type “Ladybird” into the box under “Species Search” and just pick the species that you’re interested in.

One species that biologists don’t like to see is the Harlequin ladybird. This is an invasive species from Asia that competes with our native ladybirds and has led to the decline of some species. However, it’s really important to get any records of it, so be sure to submit your records even though it’s not native.

Baby Ladybirds…

What does a baby fly look like? Answer: a maggot.
What does a baby butterfly look like? Answer: a caterpillar

Of course, if we use the correct term these aren’t babies, but “larvae”. So what do you think a ladybird larva looks like? Check out this great video to find out:

If you find any ladybird larvae and want to identify these, try this sheet of pictures from an old UK ladybird survey: download ladybird larvae sheet

Ladybird names

Oh, how I love ladybird names. In English, many of the ladybirds are named for how many spots they have. All species have a two-part Latin name too. And in ladybirds, the second part of the Latin name is often also about how many spots they have. So we have quattuordecimpunctata (14-spot), novemdecimpunctata (19-spot), vigintiquattuorpunctata (24-spot) etc. Biologists are lazy, so we tend to abbreviate these names to 14-punctata, 19-punctata etc., but it’s fun to know their real names 🙂

Published by Louise Allcock

Professor of Zoology at NUI Galway

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