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National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America Paperback – May 31, 2007
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-Covers a wide variety of insect orders as well as arachnids. Also has a few pages prefacing each section that explains the classification criteria and some of the life history.
-For most people, this guide will have a sufficient amount of genera and species represented to help with identification.
-The photos are nice. I can tell they lightened some of them with the dodge tool (there are subtle "halos" around some of them-- not a big deal at all and most people are unlikely to notice, I just use Photoshop a lot so I could spot it) to really try and make the critters visible, which is helpful.
-Showing only 3 insects per page means the photos are a decent size and you don't need to strain your eyes too much to see the details.
-It's just a nice-looking book. The colors are great and I haven't had in trouble with the binding.
-The cover is supposedly water-proof, though I haven't tested it.
-There are pictures on both pages. On one hand, I definitely understand the reasoning here especially because there's only 3 images per page, and many guides do this. However, it does make flipping through the guide harder. My personal preference is to have photos on the right page and text on the left.
-You need to be very, very careful about using this guide to ID down to species level. Many of the entries only go down to genus level to begin with, but others show a species and don't mention when there are several similar-looking ones in the same genus. My recommendation is to use this guide to narrow down your search and then turn to the internet (BugGuide, iNaturalist, etc) to find a more specific ID. Does that make having this guide less useful? Yeah, kinda. For me it does, at least. But that depends on how you want to use it and how much you care about finding a species/genus vs being content saying "this is a kind of leaf-footed bug".
-Despite being a "field guide," this book is a little too big and heavy for me to really carry around in the field. I mean, it's doable and there are heavier guides out there, but it's pretty thick and since you can't get that species ID from it, it's best to just leave it home and consult it later. I always photograph and/or capture my critters so that's not a problem for me, but it might be for other people who want some kind of a pocket guide. If you think this might be a problem for you I'd suggest the Kaufman guide which is more compact.
Overall, I like this book, but it may leave people searching for species IDs disappointed. Personally I would rather use more in-depth field guides for specific orders and families (like Evans' Beetles of Eastern North America or the Kaufman Butterflies of North America guides) but if you just want to get a sense of what you're looking at, you could do a lot worse than to get this book. One alternative guide I'd suggest checking out, which I mentioned above, is the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. It's not without its drawbacks but I prefer how it's organized and it's more lightweight. Unfortunately this guide did not come back to school with me because I have limited space and it wasn't useful enough for my purposes, as I already have a pretty good working knowledge of most insect orders and families.