Moving across the country has been a big adventure and one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so far. However, there are some downsides. The biggest one for me is that my western field guides are rather worthless in my new home. The insects on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains are quite different compared to the insects from the other side. That’s good. It’s really fun seeing all the new things and I am enjoying learning about the local species. However, it would be great to have field guides appropriate for this part of the country as I explore the local terrestrial insects, just to make field identifications of unfamiliar species a little easier. So, I’ve created a wishlist of insect field guides that I want to buy over the next few months. They include:
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East was the one and only eastern field guide I purchased before I moved to North Carolina and I love it as much as I loved the corresponding book for the west. However, I am a firm believer that I can never have too many dragonfly books! We have this book at work and I really like it because it focuses entirely on the species of the southeast and leaves out the things you only find in Canada and New England. I have several copies available for my use at work, but I think I need a copy for home too. It will look awfully good with all the other dragonfly books on my shelf, and I’ve already found it useful.
I’ve wanted this book since it was first released, but there never seemed to be a point in actually buying it. There will always be some species that cross the east-west boundary, but why would I need a book on eastern caterpillars in the west? Well, now I live in the east and I suddenly have a use for this book. Yay! I can’t wait to get it! I know next to nothing about caterpillar identification, but I’m working at a field station/outdoor education center. People like to visit the garden and ask questions about the butterflies and I find myself needing to learn my caterpillars for the first time ever. I think this book would be a great way to get started, so it’s at the very top of my wishlist.
This book is tailored to the northeast rather than the southeast, but the moth people I’ve interacted with in North Carolina so far tell me that it’s still one of the best guides for local species. North Carolina is an interesting place because it’s got an incredibly rich diversity of geologies and habitat types, so we get a nice mixture of northern and southern species here. The northern moth book is supposed to be great for many of the moths here. It just doesn’t cover the species that stretch up into North Carolina from the south. Maybe someone will eventually write a companion book for the southeast?
This book isn’t geared toward the eastern US specifically, but it’s one I haven’t had a chance to purchase yet and am really excited about getting. I’ve flipped through it a few times and it’s a great book. It’s simple enough that I think it is an excellent guide for people just starting to learn about freshwater insects, crustaceans, worms, and other invertebrates. However, it’s got enough detail that I feel like it has some meat to it too. Most other aquatic invertebrate fields guides out there are either quite old and outdated or not detailed enough for my taste, so this book is a welcome future addition to my library.
National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America by Arthur Evans and Craig Tufts
An all-purpose insect field guide can come in really handy now and again. I have a few general guides already, but I’m always on the lookout for more. This is the one I want the most. I really like the way Art Evans writes and he is incredibly knowledgeable about insects, so I trust that the information in this book is good. The people I know who have it all seem to like it too, which I consider a good sign. This book combines lovely photos and great information, so what’s not to love? And just look at the mantid on the cover! I fully intend to judge this book by its cover. :)
That’s about half of my wishlist so far. Does anyone want to recommend any other insect books with a southeastern US focus? A lot of you probably know more about the great field guides in this part of the country than I do, so I welcome any suggestions! Leave your recommendations in the comments below.