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Recomend a field guide for bugs?

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Thread started 04 Feb 2012 (Saturday) 19:30   
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gmillerf
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Anybody got some recommendations for bug field guides that will help find and photograph bugs? I live in Southern Indiana (near Louisville, KY), so I'd be partial to anything that concentrates on species around there.

There's about four million of them on Amazon, so I'm looking to narrow the field.

Post #1, Feb 04, 2012 19:30:02


Greg -- http://www.flickr.com/​photos/79652823@N00/external link

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LLBNY
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Field Guide to Insects of North America
Eric R. Eaton & Kenn Kaufman

Post #2, Feb 05, 2012 10:07:56


http://www.flickr.com/​photos/bugslou/collect​ions/external link

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DQE
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I have about as much luck using bugguide.net, especially when I use its taxonomy menu tab to guide me through the species, etc. There are other similar sites on the net, including photos and some expert ID advice too.

I also have several bug ID books that I occasionally use to aid my ID searches - if bugguide doesn't seem adequate for your needs, I would be glad to look up my primary book references and post them.

Post #3, Feb 05, 2012 15:50:49


--Phil
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gmillerf
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bugguide.net looks interesting. But I'd also like something that gives some info on the bug's habits to give me a hint as to where and when to find them.

Post #4, Feb 07, 2012 14:40:46


Greg -- http://www.flickr.com/​photos/79652823@N00/external link

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DQE
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gmillerf wrote in post #13843478external link
bugguide.net looks interesting. But I'd also like something that gives some info on the bug's habits to give me a hint as to where and when to find them.

I just bought this book and find it to be very interesting and helpful:

http://www.amazon.com ...TF8&qid=1328670801&​sr=1-1external link

Hopefully, the "look inside" feature will help you decide if it would be useful for your purposes.

Post #5, Feb 07, 2012 21:14:49


--Phil
Canon gear: 5D MkII, 5D, MPE-65, 100 mm 2.8 macro, 85 mm f1.2 L, 16-35 mm f2.8, 24-105 mm L, MT-24, MR-14; 550EX flash (2 units); Gitzo 2548 tripod; Gitzo monopod; Acratech Ultimate Ballhead; Manfrotto 410 geared tripod head; Cognisys StackShot rail & controller

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gmillerf
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I went ahead and ordered the one recommended by LLBNY, and a couple of others that looked promising. The "Look inside" is somewhat helpful, but for the most part doesn't give a good indication of what the meat of the book will be like. It usually just gives the table of contents and index, then the first few pages, which isn't very indicative of what the rest of the book will be like.

Post #6, Feb 08, 2012 10:00:29


Greg -- http://www.flickr.com/​photos/79652823@N00/external link

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DQE
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Especially if quality is more important than price, and if having *very many* high-quality photographs is especially important, I highly recommend this book by Stephen Marshall:

Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity: With a Photographic Guide to Insects of Eastern North America [Hardcover]

Here's the Amazon.com link, with their "look inside" feature:

http://www.amazon.com ...TF8&qid=1328738334&​sr=1-1external link

I can't say enough good things about this book, with its only drawback being price. Yet one does get tons of photographs, great organization, and (for myself and my wife) a high hit rate on identifying the bugs we find in our garden and yard (near Portland, Maine, USA). This book is far beyond the ordinary field guide to bugs, and has served us well for several years - it's not something we have outgrown yet it is not excessively technical for non-professional bug photography enthusiasts.

I hope this additional suggestion helps.

Post #7, Feb 08, 2012 16:03:28


--Phil
Canon gear: 5D MkII, 5D, MPE-65, 100 mm 2.8 macro, 85 mm f1.2 L, 16-35 mm f2.8, 24-105 mm L, MT-24, MR-14; 550EX flash (2 units); Gitzo 2548 tripod; Gitzo monopod; Acratech Ultimate Ballhead; Manfrotto 410 geared tripod head; Cognisys StackShot rail & controller

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LLBNY
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DQE, I have the book 'Their Natural History and Diversity'
Excellent, but I didn't mention it because it is difficult to call this book a field guide to carry in your pocket. unless you can carry the 10# book.
But it is a very good book at home.

Post #8, Feb 09, 2012 05:10:09


http://www.flickr.com/​photos/bugslou/collect​ions/external link

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John ­ Koerner
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gmillerf wrote in post #13826499external link
Anybody got some recommendations for bug field guides that will help find and photograph bugs? I live in Southern Indiana (near Louisville, KY), so I'd be partial to anything that concentrates on species around there.
There's about four million of them on Amazon, so I'm looking to narrow the field.


The 3 Guides I use most for critters in the Eastern US are The Field Guide to Insects and Spidersexternal link, Moths of Eastern North Americaexternal link, and Butterflies of the East Coastexternal link.

The first book is the one I use the most and is a true field guide, with very good photos and a wide variety of coverage for the most common species of many different critter types. The second book, while considered 'the' authority book on moths, has sucky photos (many of which are in b&w), but it does cover more moth species than any other US moth book in print.

The latter book might not quite extend to the State of Indiana, range-wise, but the quality of photos and information is truly superb, and there will be enough range overlap among the species covered to make it worthwhile IMO. It is a much larger paperback book, and pretty thick, with really excellent photographs, so it may not qualify as a true field guide. However, I personally never 'analyze' what I am looking at in the field anyway. I take my macro shots while I am there, collect the specimen if it's interesting enough, and then do my analysis at home with the macro shot blown-up on my computer screen so I can see the subject detail and meticulously compare it to the book photos. In this respect, the larger book (with corresponding larger/better photos) is preferable IMO.

If you're really serious about your IDs, though, no book is really going to help much on anything but butterflies and the most common of common species. For less common species, you really should contact your State Department of Agriculture for (literally) 'the' state experts. When you call the Dept. of Agriculture in your state, you will learn of multiple scientists working there whose sole function is to conduct agricultural research on (say) beetles, or sucking bugs, or moths, or spiders, etc. and how these animals affect crops, etc. These people will quite literally be 'the' experts in your state and they will be able to offer proof positive IDs like no book ever could.

The only hitch is that these folks are busy men and women, and most will not want to be bothered answering every little bug question you have, but a few of them will, so being able to gain their expert opinions hinges on whether or not you can strike-up a friendship with one of these experts, or more than one, to where the individual will actually answer your questions any time you have one. I was lucky in that I was able to develop a good friendship with 'the' authority on spiders in my state, and spiders are my main interest, but I am also trying to develop relationships with the experts in moths, beetles, etc.

Anyway, for such busy, professional experts to set aside their time to help you, you might want to offer to help them, which you can do by offering to do 'free work' for them, taking photos of their specimens on projects they're working on, etc., in exchange for being able to rely on their expert opinion. Of course, your photos will have to be good enough to interest them, but if they are then, hey, taking time out to photograph the state expert's subjects really isn't 'work' IMO ... as all it does is allow you to take a bunch of photos of arthropod species you probably haven't seen before. To my way of thinking, this is just an added bonus on top of having a truly expert opinion just an email away :D

Jack

Final Note: With some species, even a clear photograph isn't enough sometimes, even when reviewed by an expert, and in those cases the specimen will actually have to be subjected to microscopic analysis for 100% certainty. To circumvent this, with spiders anyway, sometimes I can take a photo of their underside (while they're sitting atop clear glass), so the scientist can view the underparts/genitalia for ID confirmation.

Post #9, Feb 09, 2012 07:30:17


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gmillerf
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LLBNY wrote in post #13854346external link
DQE, I have the book 'Their Natural History and Diversity'
Excellent, but I didn't mention it because it is difficult to call this book a field guide to carry in your pocket. unless you can carry the 10# book.
But it is a very good book at home.

I guess I didn't really mean "field guide" since I doubt I'll be walking around reading it in a forest. That book does look awesome, so I ordered a used copy. I'm sure that'll be enough to keep me busy until the bugs actually start coming out around here.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with this question, so if people have recommendations for books that don't cover Indiana, please feel free to "hijack" this thread.

Post #10, Feb 09, 2012 11:58:28


Greg -- http://www.flickr.com/​photos/79652823@N00/external link

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John ­ Koerner
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DQE wrote in post #13851188external link
Especially if quality is more important than price, and if having *very many* high-quality photographs is especially important, I highly recommend this book by Stephen Marshall:
Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity: With a Photographic Guide to Insects of Eastern North America [Hardcover]
Here's the Amazon.com link, with their "look inside" feature:
http://www.amazon.com ...TF8&qid=1328738334&​sr=1-1external link
I can't say enough good things about this book, with its only drawback being price. Yet one does get tons of photographs, great organization, and (for myself and my wife) a high hit rate on identifying the bugs we find in our garden and yard (near Portland, Maine, USA). This book is far beyond the ordinary field guide to bugs, and has served us well for several years - it's not something we have outgrown yet it is not excessively technical for non-professional bug photography enthusiasts.
I hope this additional suggestion helps.


I clicked on the link you were kind enough to provide, and the book does look like quite a gem. For the amount of work it must have taken to create and organize such a book, the price is a drop in the bucket IMO. Thank you for the recommending it, and I too placed my order last night ... with an arrival date of Monday ... can't wait to check it out :D

Post #11, Feb 10, 2012 08:52:50


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DQE
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John Koerner wrote in post #13861655external link
I clicked on the link you were kind enough to provide, and the book does look like quite a gem. For the amount of work it must have taken to create and organize such a book, the price is a drop in the bucket IMO. Thank you for the recommending it, and I too placed my order last night ... with an arrival date of Monday ... can't wait to check it out :D

I'm glad it seemed useful and worth the price to you - I don't think you'll be disappointed in the quality and depth of information or the photos with respect to basic bug identification, etc. It's not intended to be a primary reference for an entomology PhD thesis, but it's really been helpful for everyday bug ID purposes.

Let us know what you think after you've had a chance to work with it. At this time of year I am especially envious of people who live in Florida - in Maine where I live there won't be a significant number of bugs for at least another 3 months.

Post #12, Feb 10, 2012 10:35:38


--Phil
Canon gear: 5D MkII, 5D, MPE-65, 100 mm 2.8 macro, 85 mm f1.2 L, 16-35 mm f2.8, 24-105 mm L, MT-24, MR-14; 550EX flash (2 units); Gitzo 2548 tripod; Gitzo monopod; Acratech Ultimate Ballhead; Manfrotto 410 geared tripod head; Cognisys StackShot rail & controller

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