Start RecordingWe are inviting everyone to submit sightings of any of 20 species that we know commonly occur in gardens. The species chosen are a mix of vertebrates and invertebrates, from different taxonomic groups. Each of the species can be relatively easily identified, provided that key identification features are carefully noted.

Peacock

Large powerful butterfly, with four distinctive eyes visible when perched.   Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: No other Irish species has a similar pattern.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Bright colourful butterfly, generally appearing reddish-orange but with a distinctive blue fringe to its upper wings. Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: No other Irish species has a band of blue dots on its outer wings.

Green Shieldbug

All green except for a distinctive darker patch where the wing membranes overlap at the back of the bug. The body is ‘shield’-shaped, not round.  Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: There are a few other species of shieldbug that are green, but the others have some red markings.

Hawthorn Shieldbug

Its overall appearance is green with red speckles and distinctive red-tipped points on shoulders. The triangular area on the back between the shoulders (called the scutellum) is entirely green and the shoulders are red-tipped. There is a red sheen towards the back of the bug where the wings overlap.Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: Birch Shieldbug is smaller, with rounded rather than pointed shoulders.

Ashy Mining Bee

A dark bee, with two distinct grey bands on its upper body (thorax). It is often seen entering its nest holes on earthen banks and other areas of bare soil. Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: No other species of solitary bee is just black with the two grey bands.

Common Carder Bee

This species has distinctive ginger upper body (thorax) and black hairs on the abdomen. It is one of the commonest and widespread species of bumblebee. Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: The Large Carder Bee lacks black hairs on the abdomen, they are yellow instead. The Large Carder Bee is also a much rarer species.

Emperor Dragonfly

At about three inches long, this is Ireland’s largest dragonfly. The male’s body (abdomen) is sky blue with a central dark line; the female has a similar pattern but the body is greenish-blue. It is a strong, active flier and rarely settles.Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: The large size and colour pattern should ensure it is not confused with any other species.

Red Lily Beetle

The adult beetle as about 8mm in length and has bright red wing cases and body. The head, body and legs are black. Will generally only be found on or close to lilies. It is considered an unwelcomed invasive species. Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species; Red Cardinal Beetle is slimmer and will be found in grassy areas without lilies.

7-spot Ladybird

The commonest ladybird. It has seven spots, three on either side of the body and a seventh large black dot behind the head. Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: No other species of red ladybird has a similar pattern of dots.

22-spot Ladybird

This is a small, yellow ladybird with round black dots on its body.Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: The 14-spot Ladybird is also yellow, however, it has fewer markings that form a geometric pattern.

Garden Spider

The garden spider has distinctive cross marking on their body. The spider is usually brown but can also be bright orange or yellow. It is often seen sitting in the middle of its orb-shaped web. .

Confusion species: No other species of spider has similar markings on its body.

New Zealand Flatworm

New Zealand Flatworm

It has a flatted body, pointed at the ends. Unlike earthworms, it does not have any segments. It is dark brown in colour with distinctive paler fringes. It is native to New Zealand and is considered an invasive species in Ireland.Click here for a species profile.

Confusion species: None.

Red Fox

Similar in appearance to a dog, but with reddish brown fur and a long bush tail, usually with a white tip. It has prominent erect ears, with black tips and backs.

Confusion species: Should not be confused with any other species.

Hedgehog

This species is unmistakable as it is the only species Irish mammal with a spiny coat. Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: none.

Greater White-toothed Shrew

It has greyish to reddish brown fur, with a pale belly. Its snout is long and it has prominent ears. If found dead, its white teeth are distinctive. Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: Pygmy shrew is smaller in size, no larger than 6 cm in length. Its teeth are red tipped.

House Sparrow

Usually seen in small noisy family parties close to houses and farmyards.. Its overall appearance is grey brown with darker brown streaks on their back. Males have white cheeks and a distinctive black bib under their bill.

Confusion species: none.

Starling

A noisy energetic bird. From a distance it looks all black with a bright pointed bill, but at close quarters, its plumage has a green/purplish metallic sheen on black with lighter dots. It appears much slimmer than blackbirds, with a short pointed tail.

Confusion species: Blackbird, but blackird has a more rounded shape and a long tail.

House Martin

Similar to the swallow, but it has a prominent white patch over its tail. It builds its mud nest on the outside of buildings, unlike the swallow whose nests are built inside buildings.

Confusion species: Swallow lacks the white rump. Sand Marten is brown, but does not nest in gardens. It is also strongly associated with lakes and rivers.

Smooth Newt

Similar in appearance to a lizard, but the newt prefers damp, shady places. It breeds in ponds during spring and summer and has smooth skin like a frog. Newts can be found away from water in autumn and winter, and hibernate under stones and wood.

Confusion species: Lizard, which has a scaly skin and is usually seen basking in sunny spots.

Common Frog

Very familiar species. occurs in most gardens where it lays its distinctive spawn early in the year. Adults can be found at all times of the year. Click here for a full species profile.

Confusion species: None