Almost everyone must know the ladybird, that very common, colourful, small beetle with the domed back adorned with spots or other markings.
The most common species is the 7-spot Ladybird. As its name clearly tells us it has seven spots on its back, three round ones on each side and leaf-shaped one in the middle of its back directly behind its head as illustrated above.
Its domed back is bright orange-red and all of the spots are jet black making it immediately recognisable. It can fly using its four wings: a front pair and a hind pair. The front pair are hardened and coloured and comprise the spotted dome we see making up the beetle’s back.
When the insect wants to fly it hinges its front pair of wings forward and holds them out rigid to left and right like the wings of an aeroplane. It unfurls its hind pair of wings and flats them to propel itself aloft. The hind wings are soft and uncoloured like those of a wasp.
It may come as a surprise to learn that 19 different species of ladybird have been recorded in Ireland. Knowledge of their status and distribution is not well understood. To address that knowledge gap, and to determine their distribution, habitat preference, and status, the National Biodiversity Data Centre is initiating a Ladybird Atlas 2025 project. The aim is to publish an atlas in 2025 featuring maps showing the distribution of all 19 species together with the most up to date information about these colourful insects.
Help is needed to map the whole country so you are invited to volunteer as a citizen scientist to record all the ladybirds to see in your area. It is really easy to help with the Ladybird Atlas 2025 project. If you see a ladybird and are sure of its identification simply submit details of the sighting using Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal at https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/ladybirds#7/53.455/-8.016.
You might consider going a step farther by developing your ladybird identification skills and becoming a recorder for your area or some area of your choice?
For further information and to see profiles of all 19 ladybird species go to https://biodiversityireland.ie/surveys/ladybird-atlas-2025/