Shieldbug and Ladybird identification swatches re-released!

Seven identification swatches now available from the National Biodiversity Data Centre for the biological recorder’s toolkit.

Blue Shieldbug, a species which can be found in wetland habitats in Ireland such as wet grassland, fens and bog edges.

Updated versions of both the Shieldbug and Ladybird identification swatches are now available to purchase from the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s online shop. After a period of time out of stock, Admin and Engagement Officer Ben Malone, who worked on the swatch updates, believes the re-release of the swatches will be welcomed by many in the recording community.

A groundswell in biological recording in the last two years illustrates a clear growth of interest in biodiversity as a whole and in engaging with it in such a way that is constructive and useful. Getting outside to not only simply experience nature but also to record it is helping us paint more detailed pictures of what biodiversity we have in Ireland and where it occurs, no matter how rare, threatened, common or new to our shores it is. This type of information can be really useful for informing conservation, so the more tools and resources we can provide to citizen scientists for biological recording the better.”

Co-author of the Shieldbugs identification guide and Invertebrate Ecologist with the National Parks and Wildlife Service Brian Nelson remarked, “These swatches are designed to provide a quick and accessible identification guide to the Irish ladybirds and shieldbugs. They have both been updated with better images and also with species found in Ireland in recent years.

Hairy Shieldbug and Harlequin Ladybird distributions. Image credits: Charlie Jackson (Hairy Shieldbug) & Hedera baltica (Harlequin Ladybird) (Flickr)

Your records will help track changes in the fortunes of our species, the increases and range expansions as well as declines and losses. Even though we have relatively few species, there are more species present in Ireland than in the year 2000 with the discovery of new species like the Pine, Kidney-spot and Cream-streaked Ladybirds and the Southern Green Shieldbug. Some rare species have been found in new sites and others have clearly spread in response to climate change.”

Most of the new ladybirds are native European species but the Harlequin, an invasive species originally from Asia, has also managed to establish itself here. The Western Conifer Seed Bug and the Southern Green Shieldbug are two new bugs which both have been introduced into Europe and have spread across the continent. These new species, whilst exciting to see, are part of an increasing trend of species being spread by people mostly carelessly and by accident. Only time will tell how common they may become and the impact they may have, so keep recording.

The re-release of the swatches brings the total number of swatches now available to recorders to 7 which mostly cover a variety of animal groups including:

  • Shieldbugs (18 species included)
  • Ladybirds (22 species included)
  • Dragonflies and damselflies (13 dragonfly species and 11 damselfly species included)
  • Butterflies (34 species included)
  • Bumblebees (19 species included)
  • Terrestrial mammals (27 species included)
  • Trees and shrubs (35 species included)
A selection of some of the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s identification swatches. Click on the image to visit the Centre’s online store.

The identification swatches are a useful resource for any enthused naturalist or biological recorder to own; small and lightweight for carrying around in your pocket in the field yet packed with enough detail and information to help users make a good attempt at species identifications whenever a helping hand is needed.

Visit our online shop here. All identification swatches cost €6.00 (VAT does not apply). Bulk orders of 20 swatches or more can avail of a discount if you contact staff at the National Biodiversity Data Centre by email at, or by phone at 051 306 240.