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National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders (National Audubon Society Field Guides (Paperback)) 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The reference material is helpful in identifying insects/spiders, but I have one significant criticism about the book...why in the world didn't the editors include the scientific names along with the common names of these animals by the photographs in the front section? If one wants to use this book as an aid in scientific identification it becomes an exercise in page flipping -- though those engaged in serious taxonomic identification will doubtless use taxonomic keys for that purpose. Still, for the advanced amateur collector, the page flipping can get annoying.
The photographs are of generally good quality, though no photograph is the equal of a quality illustration.
While 700 photos sounds like a lot, that number is nowhere near the number of photographs it would take to do a comprehensive field guide to insects and spiders of North America. Still, this guide provides good introduction to the diversity of North American insects and spiders. This book will get you in the ballpark when you try to identifying these animals, but you'll have to use other reference materials if you are serious about taxonomy.
A helpful book, though it has a few flaws. You might consider using this book and the Peterson Field Guide to Insects together -- the latter book relies on illustations, and it includes a form of taxonomic keys that are not that hard to use.
4 stars -- well worth the price.
Alan Holyoak, Dept of Biology, Manchester College (IN)
My only criticism of this book is that the editors decided to spend relatively less time on some of the insects that you are more likely to actually see (just two examples that come to mind are millipedes and centipedes), while spending a lot of time on insects that are very unlikely to be witnessed by most amateurs (for example, there is extensive coverage of mites and fleas). Of couse, no one would expect Audubon to be able to cover every angle of the insect world, and no matter what choice Audubon makes they will please some people and displease others. In future editions, however, I would love to see the same coverage of the rare insects with some expansion.
For educational purposes, however, this book is terrific. Children could definitely use it to begin to appreciate the diversity and importance of the insect world. Reading about very tiny insects -- even if they never actually see them -- will reinforce for children the idea that the world is full of life, even in places they can't see. Every description in this book should ignite a child's -- or an adult's -- imagination of what else is out there...
Consider the lucky birders. In North America there are less than 900 species of birds. While some may be only 3 or four inches long, others are measured in feet. New birding guides are issued every year. And while a few species, like the empidonax flycatchers may be difficult to tell apart, all of the species are illustrated in most guides, and 90% are identifiable if the birder gets a good look at them.
Now consider the amateur entomologist. There are over 80,000 species of insects in North America. Most insects are relatively small. Telling the difference between species may require examining the vein pattern in wings. The field guides to insects illustrate at most 700 insects. No wonder there are more bird watchers than insect watchers. And no wonder there hasn't been a major insect field guide published since 1981!
A field guide to insects then probably can't help you identify most specific species. The authors feel they have done their job if they can help you identify the family.
Unfortunately most, including this Audubon Guide, may not even do that.
To test insect guides I took a series of photographs of each of three insects and then tried to identify them with the help of the guides. They were pictures of a butterfly-like insect, a bee and a fly. To find an insect in Audubon one first looks through an index of over 100 different insect and spider silhouettes. Located next to the silhouettes are the pages in the guide where insects resembling the silhouette are grouped. One can also use a thumb tab located on the page edge of each set of plates to find the desired silhouette.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book for identification of insects and spiders if that's your goal. I was able to ID two strange and totally never-seen-before insects. Provides great pics and information.Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
I love this these books from Audubon, the format is great. This guide on the insects is a little sparse, but that's just because there are so many insects. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Seth Fritch
I am no super enthusiast. I do however have a 11 year old that loves to bring me bugs. He would constantly ask, what kind of spider is this? Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rosemarie S.
This is the third Audubon book, I like the detailed information with great pictures. Wish there were more pics.Published 2 months ago by Mickey