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Aphid Predator (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)

Coccinella hieroglyphica

Hieroglyphic ladybird

On this page: Identification Biological Control & Distribution


Coccinella hieroglyphica is a medium-sized coccinellid with a body length of 4-5 mm. The elytral background colour is light brown (rarely chestnut-brown), with a pattern of black stripes, spots and patches (see first picture below). These sometimes form a black hieroglyph-like mark giving the ladybird its name (see second picture below) and melanic (=dark) forms also occur (see third picture above). The pronotum is black with antero-lateral white patches, and the head is black with two small white patches. The legs of Coccinella hieroglyphica are black.

First and third images above copyright S. Rae under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Second and fourth images above copyright Gilles San Martin under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The fourth instar larva of Coccinella hieroglyphica (see fourth picture above) is dark grey-black with mostly black tubercles. There are pale yellow patches in the centre of the meso- and metathoracic segments, and the dorso-lateral and ventro-lateral tubercles on the first and fourth abdominal segments are pale yellow.

Biological control & Distribution

Coccinella hieroglyphica is found on heathland, often where it has been invaded by scrub, and on acid grassland, marshes and mixed forests. It is often associated with heather (Calluna vulgaris), less frequently with pine and birch. It feeds on the heather aphid (Aphis callunae), and contributes to the natural biological control of that species. It also feeds on aphids on willows, birches and alder, as well as leaf beetle eggs and larvae. The hieroglyph ladybird is found through much of the the Palaearctic zone, from Western Europe to the Russian Far East, and from beyond the Polar circle to northern Italy. It is also found in North America as Coccinella hieroglyphica mannerheimi.


For coccinellid identification we have used Hackston for the key characteristics, together with the latest Wikipediaaccount for each species. For aphids we have made provisional identifications from photos of living specimens, along with host plant identity using the keys and species accounts of Blackman & Eastop (1994) and Blackman & Eastop (2006) supplemented with Blackman (1974), Stroyan (1977), Stroyan (1984), Blackman & Eastop (1984), Heie (1980-1995), Dixon & Thieme (2007) and Blackman (2010). We fully acknowledge these authors as the source for the (summarized) taxonomic information we have presented. Any errors in identification or information are ours alone, and we would be very grateful for any corrections. For assistance on the terms used for aphid morphology we suggest the figure provided by Blackman & Eastop (2006).

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