A Must Have ID Book

I know I have talked before about my “weed bible” Weeds of the Northeast (which actually covers everything East of the Mississippi I’m sure).  And yes, there are very good online guides to both weeds and insects.

But to me, if I don’t exactly know what I’m looking for, there’s nothing quite like having a book–paper pages–to flip through. Not only might I find the actual insect (or weed) I’m seeking out, but I might see something else I didn’t know I had, or might have been wondering about (the “oh, that’s what that is” kind of moment we’ve all had).  As much as I love the computer, I rarely get that online.

So when I saw Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs by Whitney Cranshaw in the window of our local Barnes and Noble a few summers back, I knew I had to have it (and no, I get nothing for that plug of B+N, sadly).

My instincts were right on, of course.  It has become my “bug bible.”  Of course it doesn’t have everything–I still can’t find that darn thing eating my coneflowers but I have been able to narrow it down to the taxonomic family at least with the help of this book.

And of course one of the nice things it does have is caterpillars so that I can know the good guys from the bad guys.  Nothing worse than squishing a potential butterfly.

The book is not for the squeamish because the photos are up close and in color of all the lovely bugs in the backyard (notice the feet of the caterpillar hugging the stem of the plant in the cover shot, for example).  But if you really do want to get to know what’s in the backyard–and whether it is friend or foe (and really, as gardeners, shouldn’t we want to know, before we obliterate by whatever means we choose?  Bugs can be some of our best allies in the garden)–this is definitely the book for you!

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4 thoughts on “A Must Have ID Book

  1. Looks like a great one. And I still love my Stokes Guide to Observing Insect Lives, which you recommended to me more than a decade ago!

  2. Maryann,
    Oh cool. I’ve always been a weed geek–how scary that I’m a bug geek too! Two others that you might like are by Bernd Heinreich and are called Summer World and Winter World. They’re just like they sound–all about what goes on and the interactions in the natural world. I especially love the Winter one because we so often think of the winter landscape as “dead” and of course it’s not at all–there’s so much going on out there!

    Say hi to everyone for me!

    Karla

    • Thanks for letting me know about the Summer World and Winter World books! They sound great. I will definitely have to check them out. Say hi to the Spoiler for me!

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