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The ladybird species found in the UK

Ladybirds belong to the scientific family Coccinellidae. In Britain, some 46 species belong to this family, although only 26 of these are recognisable as ladybirds.
Many species are named after a number of spots. Counting the spots is not always a good way to identify them though, as the number of spots can vary a lot. Not all ladybirds even have spots; some have stripes, patches or streaks.
If spot number alone isn’t a good indication, there are other useful characteristics to observe:
wing case colour: colour and shape of spots or markings: leg colour: body length and the colour of the pronotum – the small section of casing between the head and the wing cases.


Photo: T Thomas
The harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) is one of the most invasive insect species in the world. It took the harlequin ladybird less than a decade to spread throughout Britain.
The harlequin was introduced from Asia to North America in the 1980s to control aphids that were feeding on crops. However, the ladybird quickly spread across the United States to become the most common ladybird there. Its arrival in Britain in 2004 was probably accidental though it might have blown over in strong winds following its spread across Europe where it was introduced from North America, again for aphid control.
Over 100 different colour patterns have been recorded which makes it difficult to identify, especially from the seven-spot ladybird, which is also variable. Look out for a white spot on its head – other ladybirds do not have these patches.