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Stokes Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies Paperback – May, 2002
Scientific Teaching Series
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A few pages in the front of the book give brief background information on dragonflies, and on equipment and strategies for observing them in the field. Then you go to page after page of species descriptions. Important identification information is given for each species, and at least one (sometimes more when appropriate) photo. The photos are usually of good quality both as photos and as identification aids.
A key in the inside cover of the book helps you pick out characteristics of a dragonfly you are observing, and the key then points you to the appropriate pages in the book using a color tab system.
I compared copies in hand of this book, and its chief competitor, DRAGONFLIES THROUGH BINOCULARS. I felt this book would be more useful in the field, so I ordered this one from Amazon.com, not the binoculars book. That's the best testimony I can give. I've since read and begun to use the book, and I am happy with my choice.
Only downside to this book is that it may tempt you to order one of the larger, more in-depth books on dragonflies, which are quite expensive!
First, the inside cover has a quick identification table that helps you determine the family of dragonfly or damselfly right away. Then using the color coding in the book, you can flip right to the section for that family. If that's not enough, there is another page inside that steps you through how to make the identification. In other words, what you should look for first, then next, and so on.
There is also information on anatomy, behavior, life cycle, development, feeding habits and migration. And if you don't learn enough here, they've included a list of resources to learn more.
The illustrations are larger than some guides and very clear.
This easy to use guide includes "over 100 of the approximately 435 North American species"--some of the "most common, widespread and conspicuous," and does include representatives from each family.
It even suggests how best to spend your time in the field. So get your guide and get out and identify dragonflies.
Mr. Mitchell taught me that Dragonfiles can drown in deep water if they try to take a drink, and that Dragonflies, Damselflies and Butterflies all need shallow water. That's why you see them hovering over mud puddles and why every bird bath needs a shallow spot. In Mr. Mitchell's garden, the Dragonflies drank from the leaves on his water lillies. If you plant water lillies, you will see a Dragonfly or two or three.
The BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO DRAGONFLIES is destined to help me help my granddaughters develop an appreciation of Dragonfiles and Damselflies. According to authors Nikula, Sones, and Stokes, the major differences between the two are wing shapes, wing positions, eye positions, overall appearance and flight style. Some of the photos even depict Dragonflies that might be confused with Butterflies. We are going to learn about: 'Cruisers', 'Spiketails', 'Clubtails', 'Petaltails'
and a whole lot more. Seems that pretty neon blue insect I've seen hovering over the pond may be a 'Pond Damsel.'
Each of the illustrated "Identification" pages in DRAGONFLIES contains a photograph and text description of the fly and a map of Northern America depicting the range of the insect in question. Each map shows the entire country plus Canada. The pages of the book are color coded by family type so you can link the Dragonfly or Damselfly to it's family. Get this book and enjoy the summer fun.
The photos are generally of good quality and the key in the front of the book helps narrow down a specimen to the proper family without resorting to some of the quirky systems in some other field guides I have seen.
It obviously doesn't show you everything you might see, but so far everything I have seen has been in this book.
On advantage is it also contains damselflies. I would like to see Stokes come out with a full-blown field guide (or two, one for east and one for west) for dragonflies. Hopefully this is a first step in that direction.
Botton line, if you have an interst in answering, "What is that?" when you see one of these beauties in the wild, this book is a good starting point and at very comfortable price.