Ladybirds in Worcestershire

Text by John Meiklejohn
Maps from the Worcs BRC data base prepared by John Partridge using DMAP software. The outline is of the Worcestershire Vice-county, which is roughly the Victorian county, and now includes parts of the West Midlands.

The coloured square shows that we have a record from that 2 km x 2 km square. The blue lines are motorways, the red A-roads, and the dotted lines rivers and canals.

In Britain there are 46 beetle species in the Coccinellidae, the ladybird family. Of these, 26 species in three sub-families can be called ladybirds: Coccinellinae, Chilocorinae & Epilachninae. The remaining 20 species, which do not resemble ladybirds, form three further sub-families: Rhyzobiinae, Scymninae & Platynaspinae

In the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre there are records for 19 of the ladybird species. The distribution maps show that we need more records!

Most ladybirds are carnivorous, both adults and larvae feeding on aphids and other small, soft-bodied invertebrates. The 24-spot and the recently introduced Henosepilachna argus are herbivorous; both are hairy too. The 22-spot, 16-spot and Orange ladybirds feed on mildews.

Common. Unlike the 7 spot, there are several different colour forms of this species The commonest variant is black with four irregular red spots

Common. The females are generally much larger than the males

Common. Many different colour forms but the pronotal markings are fairly consistent

Usually in plant litter, commoner in coastal areas

Elytra yellow with distinctly squarish black markings. Probably our commonest ladybird widely distributed in Worcestershire. Less conspicuous than the 7 or 2 spot

A very small ladybird with a black line down the suture of the elytra. Large numbers sometimes found together in winter hibernacula

Small, bright yellow. Not very active, usually close to the ground

Small, hairy, phytophagus species usually in rough grassland

Uncommon species usually on sandy soils

Seven whitish spots on each elytron, brown or reddish-brown ground colour

Uncommon species on Scots Pine


A large ladybird usually with white edges to the elytral spots. Coniferous woodland.

A heathland species similar to the Kidney-spot, much smaller, 3 or 4 spots in a row

Uncommon. Heather heathland. (Worcs. record swept from Ling, Lickey Hills, 1991 )

A coniferous woodland species. No spots, a distinctive M-shaped mark on pronotum

One of three black ladybirds with red markings and with a definite lip around sides of elytra. Often found on deciduous tree trunks

Eight whitish spots on each orange elytron. Considered nationally scarce ten years ago and associated with Sycamore, now more common. Overwinters in leaf litter


A coniferous woodland species similar to the Kidney spot but with two spots only

A long, narrow ladybird found in Reed and Bullrush beds



An Alien ladybird Turns Up In Worcestershire - Cheilomenes lunata

In the first week of January 2002 a very unusual ladybird arrived at the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust Headquarters at Lower Smite Farm. Glenys Anderson from Worcester had found it in a bunch of grapes that she had bought from a Tesco store. It was identified by Paul Whitehead as Cheilomenes lunata, an African species. This was the first sighting outside the Thames catchment area.

E-mail correspondence revealed that three specimens had been found by 14th January, all in grapes sold by Tesco. By the 8th. February there were seven reports of it including one from Wales, one from Essex and then one from Perth in Scotland. This last specimen was found in grapes from an Asda store. It has been established that the distribution centre for Welsh grapes was in Sheerness in Kent. Were all the finds from one importation?

There is no telling just how many of these ladybirds may have found their way into the wild but it is unlikely that they will be able to survive.

(As we go to press a short report has appeared: Mabbott, Paul, 2002 Reports of Cheilomenes lunata (Fab.) (Col.:Coccinellidae) in Britain - winter 2001-2002. Ent. Record & J. Variation. 114(3):121-122. Apparently it is an aphid-eating Afro-tropical species which is found as far south as Cape Town. All the British records appear to stem from a batch of grapes imported into Sheerness, East Kent, and there were many in some boxes).

Its main plant food in Britain appears to be White Bryony but it has been swept from dense Ivy with Honeysuckle


Cheilomenes lunata. African ladybird found in Worcestershire.
In the picture the pale areas are orange and the dark areas black. See text.

A Ladybird To Look Out For -Henosepilachna argus.

This ladybird was first seen in Surrey in May 1997 where is has now established a strong breeding colony and one has been found near Stratford-on-Avon. It is a relative of our 24-spot ladybird, a plant feeder and with hairy elytra. It is 6-8 mm long, bright amber in colour with eleven black spots.


If you would like learn how to identify ladybirds, and more about them, an excellent book is Ladybirds of Surrey by Roger D Hawkins. Published by the Surrey Wildlife Trust 2000

The value of this book extends far beyond Surrey. There are excellent colour photos, including the Bryony Ladybird.

Also Majerus MEN & Kearns PWE 1989 Ladybirds. Naturalists' Handbook 10. Richmond Publishing, also contains much information and a complete identification key.

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