British Bugs

Biological recording

Biological recording is the collection, collation and dissemination of information about the occurrence of animal and plant species in the environment. It encompasses everything from an individual photographing insects on a favourite walk to major national systematic surveys of particular species or habitats. Gathering such data furthers our understanding of the distribution, ecology and conservation significance of the species concerned.

What is a biological record?

At its most basic level, a biological record is the documented occurrence of a particular species in a particular location on a certain date, identified by a named person. A record requires all four of these components in order to be complete:

1. Who saw it?   -  the name of the recorder
2. What was it?  -  the name of the species
3. Where was it?  - a 6 figure OS grid reference
4. When was it?   - a precise date (d/m/y)

There are many other pieces of information which add extra value to individual biological records. For example, in the case of Hemiptera:
  • the name of the person who identified (determined) the species, which may well be different to the person who photographed/collected it
  • the number of adults and nymphs recorded
  • the species of host plant from which it was collected, if the recorder can be reasonably confident that it was feeding on it
  • whether or not a specimen was determined by dissection
  • whether or not a voucher specimen has been retained and, if so, where it is held.
How to keep records of Hemiptera

The most versatile format to use is a spreadsheet. Each record should occupy a single row, with the different components of the record (species name, location, date etc) assigned to different pre-labelled column, as shown here:
Species Date Site Grid Reference Quantity Stage Recorder Determiner Comments

Gonocerus acuteangulatus


Wanstead Flats




Tristan Bantock

Tristan Bantock

on hawthorn

The structure of biological recording in Britain

Records should always be sent to the appropriate recording scheme. This is where they will be rigorously checked and any errors or potential mis-identifications are likely to be picked up. Once incorporated into the scheme’s national database, they can then be made publically available via the NBN Gateway.

Where to send your Hemiptera records

While we welcome the submission of records in spreadsheet form to the appropriate recording scheme (see below for details), many recorders now prefer the increased convenience of online recording facilities such as iRecord, a system produced by the Biological Records Centre.

iRecord is entirely free and makes it easy for wildlife sightings to be collated, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making at local and national levels. One of the many advantages of the system is that recorders do not have to worry about what to send where, as records are automatically made available to the relevant recording scheme for verification.

Find out more about iRecord

Go to iRecord

There are now three recording schemes for Heteroptera, two dealing with the terrestrial species and the third covering the water bugs. The first column of the systematic list indicates which of these schemes each species belongs to.

1. Terrestrial Heteroptera (Shieldbugs & allies) 

  • Includes around 60 species in the following families : Pentatomidae, Acanthosomatidae, Cydnidae, Scutelleridae, Thyreocoridae, Coreidae, Rhopalidae, Alydidae, Stenocephalidae and Pyrrhocoridae
        Please send all records to Tristan Bantock at:


2. Terrestrial Heteroptera (Plantbugs & allies)
  • Includes around 400 species in the following families : Miridae, Lygaeidae, Aradidae, Anthocoridae, Berytidae, Nabidae, Reduviidae, Ceratocombidae, Cimicidae, Microphysidae, Piesmatidae and Tingidae
       Please send all records to Jim Flanagan at:


3. Aquatic Heteroptera (Waterbugs & allies)
  • Includes around 90 species in the following families : Aepophilidae, Aphelocheiridae, Corixidae, Dipsocoridae, Gerridae, Hydrometridae, Hebridae, Mesovelidae, Nepidae, Naucoridae, Notonectidae, Pleidae, Veliidae and Saldidae
  • Please send all records to Tony Cook at:

The Auchenorrhyncha Recording Scheme now has a dedicated website at, which contains a wealth of information about this group of insects.

All records should be sent to Alan Stewart at:

A new recording scheme for Psyllids

As of 2012, a recording scheme has been set up for psyllids, which will be run by Joe Botting. All records should be sent to him at: