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Simon And Schuster's Guide to Insects (Fireside Book) Hardcover – May 4, 1981

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Slender Sphagnum Springtail

Family Entomobryidae

Order Collembola

Length ± 1.8 mm.

Recognition marks Pale yellow to blackish purple; antennae are 6-segmented. This group is very distinctive because of the large fourth abdominal segment, at least twice the length of the third segment as seen from dorsal view.

Habitat Found on sphagnum moss growing in woodland pools.

Distribution This species belongs to a family of 138 species in northeastern United States and Canada.

Note Springtails are among the most abundant of insects, yet they are very seldom seen by nonprofessional collectors. Nearly any moist soil sample will yield hundreds of individuals. If you watch the activity going on in a bowl containing wood's moss, you will see these creatures plying their way through the vegetation. Springtails undoubtedly are a main food source for many small beetle larvae and for centipedes. Very few details are known about their lives. It is known that the males place spermatophores in strategic positions on the soil so that the females will encounter them. She engulfs these gelatinous masses into her reproductive tract where the sperm are released and fertilize her eggs.

Soil Proturan

Family Acerentomidae

Order Protura

Length ± 1.8 mm.

Recognition marks Body white; front pair of legs projected forward and used as sense organs rather than for locomotion.

Habitat Soil; these insects are seldom seen.

Distribution Poorly known, probably throughout eastern North America.

Note These primitive insects need further study. Some authorities do not consider them to be insects but a separate group by themselves. They show some relationship to the springtails. Spiracles and Malpighian tubules (excretory organs), both characteristic of insects, are absent in this and similar species of the order. In addition, unlike "true" insects, they add abdominal segments during each molt. Other insects have a complete complement of segments upon hatching.


Family Lepismatidae

Order Thysanura

Length ± 12 mm.

Recognition marks Uniformly slate gray; body is covered with scales; eyes are small with separate elements.

Habitat Warm, humid places, including home, but also in the wild in southern Florida and in other tropical regions.

Distribution Cosmopolitan.

Note This species is often a pest in homes and libraries. It feeds on starchy materials, such as glue, but requires high humidity. It can be reared in glass jars where it will feed on oatmeal and other starchy foods. Potatoes will provide the necessary water. Do not let it mold or let the jar get too dry. Other species of this poorly known order can be captured in the wild. They are found in leaf litter and among rocks and in debris along the shore. These insects are considered to be very primitive, perhaps the most primitive of living forms. The appendages on the ventral surface of the abdomen are one indication of this even though these are not functional locomotive appendages. Silverfish might well be considered living fossils; they are much older than the dinosaurs.

Slender Dipluran

Family Japygidae

Order Diplura

Length 8-10 mm.

Recognition marks Elongate; pale tan, with central portion of each abdominal segment darker, apical segment dark brown, with a pair of stout forceps.

Habitat Soil-inhabiting species.

Distribution Widespread, but local, spotty distribution.

Note Although all of these primitive wingless insects are rather small and devoid of attractive colors, they are worthy of study if for nothing more than the fact that so little is known about them. The wingless primitive insect pictured at the introduction to this section is a wild thysanuran. They are fast runners. They must be closely examined to distinguish them from the nymphs of some other order. Perhaps this is why they have been overlooked for so long.

Copyright © 1981 by Simon & Schuster Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Ed. edition (May 4, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671250132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671250133
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 4.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,865,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It would be impossible for any single book to be a total guide (and I have many!), but this book has EXCELLENT photographs - which is especially helpful with hemiptera (true bugs), since there is a shortage of identifying guides for them. I not only found photos of insects that I (and my county ag agent) had been unable to identify, this book is wonderfully keyed to indicate whether insects are beneficials, pests, neutral, etc. This "at a glance" keying (by color, symbols and single alpha's) is very helpful for gardeners since most books do not give good information on what insects eat (a predator can develop into a pest as an adult, and vice versa), etc., but rather only provide physical identification information. Organic gardeners can frequently find information only on the worst (most common) pests, and may live in areas where they have worst pests that are not indigenous elsewhere, or identification of the most common predators, that may not be universally common. The author give life histories and other valuable information frequently lacking in "identification" books. Scientific names are provided for the more serious reader - and to help in identifying similiar insects in more complete but poorly illustrated books. Because of the beautiful photos, it would be a good "beginner book" for a budding entomologist too! This book is a real bargain!
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Format: Paperback
Great general reference guide with photos by renowned insect photographer Dr. Edward Ross. A well done eighty-three page introduction covers such topics as classification, anatomy, behavior and collecting. Not for real die hards as the number of species is limited. Great though for students, naturalists, nature photographers and others interested in a good general introduction that uses top quality photography.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 the Simon & Schuster guide, may not even do that.

To test insect guides I took a series of pictures 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. Simon and Schuster helped me identify the insect order with a table that provided common features of an order and gave its name. I then was required to flip through the pages describing the orders, which are arranged taxonomicaly, to find a description of the order and the entry numbers of the pictures and descriptions of that order.
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Format: Paperback
This guide is awesome, pictures and illustrations are from very high quality, I found this guide comparable to those guides from Audubon.
Two illustration of insects come on left page, and on the right page you have the theorical info, so It easy to read and look at the picture at the same time. Insects are very easy to find, theyre grouped in orders, and by similitudes of course.
This is a must have for any insect enthusiast, no mether if a begginer or if an expert on this field.
It is very complete.
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Format: Paperback
Scientists speculate that insects may make up about half of the organisms on earth, with 15 million insects to every living human. Most of the massive number of insects are found in the band of tropical forests that circle the globe. With that said, there is still a huge variety of insects in North America.

Although it is not mentioned anywhere on the cover, Simon and Schuster's Guide to Insects is a guide to North American insects. I enjoyed the introduction, which provided information on the anatomy and behavior of many groups of insects. There was also a section on the collection and preservation of insects, which was of great interest to me because I am learning the rituals of entomology.

The over 1000 photographs in this book are well made and taken so that an insect may be easily identified. The photographers Dr. Edward S. Ross and Kjell Sandvid are responsible for almost all of the photographs and are decorated scholars who have collectively been photographing insects for over 65 years. There is a very professional and uniform quality throughout. A majority of the photographs were shot in the wild, the lighting is well thought out, and the quality of color is consistent. If you are looking for a book of excellent insect photography this book will not disappoint. My only complaint about the photographs from a scientific perspective would be that there is usually only one photograph per species and very few images of insects in their larval stages.

This book is geared towards the backyard enthusiast and the amateur entomologist, but there are better resources available. There is no substitute for the internet and specifically [...] when trying to identify an insect. Many state universities and natural history museums also have fantastic online databases.
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