Length: 3 - 4mm. Background colour: black. Pattern colour: red spots. Number of spots: 2-6 (6). Spot fusions: sometimes. Melanic (black) forms: not applicable. Pronotum: black. Leg colour: black. Other features: distinct rim around the edge of the elytra.
Fourth-instar larva: black, with tubercles bearing long black spines giving rise to hairs with extensive side-branching; with a diagnostic pale first abdominal segment. Pupa: larval skin encloses the lower part of the pupa.
Habitats: This is a species commonly found on heathland. There are also a number of coastal records from dune systems and scrub. Heather ladybirds have also been recorded from marshy habitats.
Host plants: Heather ladybirds have been widely reported from Calluna. However, they are also associated with plants typical of scrub habitats, including bracken, bramble and gorse. There are a growing number of records from Leyland cypress and occasionally other trees such as sallow, willow and Scots pine.
Overwintering sites: Heather ladybirds overwinter in litter or in bark crevices (commonly conifers and gorse).