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Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America Turtleback – 28 Feb 2007

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Product details

  • Turtleback: 391 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (28 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618153101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618153107
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 2.6 x 11.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,277,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Turtleback
A decade ago, at least 90,000 species of insects had been recorded north of Mexico and tens of thousands remained undescribed. Clearly a comprehensive field guide is out of the question. The only other one-volume guide to North American insects on my shelves is the Peterson Field Guide by Borror & White which, having been published in 1970, is getting rather long in the tooth. Nevertheless, it has done a stalwart job and remains the only guide to give a detailed systematic overview of North American insects, relying on concise text and monochrome and coloured plates to achieve this. Although the chances of putting a specific name on your given insect are slim, this guide will usually get you to the correct order - often family.

The Kaufman Guide comes as a welcome refresher with a slightly different philospohy. The authors use an approach which is slightly less rigid and much more visual. They follow Kaufman's previous guides (Birds, Butterflies) in using digitally-enhanced photographs - 2,350 of them! - to illustrate their subject. The user will either flick through the book, or use the 4-page "Pictorial keys" at the beginning to find the type of insect they are dealing with, hopefully keying in on a specific matching photograph to identify it. A short text on the facing page should confirm identification and may provide additional information on natural history.

This is definitely the guide beginners will want to acquire, but it should find a place on every naturalist's bookshelf. Highly recommended.

Chris Sharpe, 5 May 2008. ISBN: 0618153101
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 82 reviews
62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful, Great for a Backyard Entomolgist 16 Feb. 2007
By Jeff C - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Turtleback Verified Purchase
This Field Guide sticks to the same tried and true format as the other Kaufman Field Guides (Birds, Butterflies, and Mammals). Every odd page is packed with digitally touched-up pictures of various insects and the even pages contain brief descriptions of the species/family, their habits, etc... Given the enormity of the insect fauna in North America north of Mexico (the region covered by this guide) it is obvious that a field guide such as this is not going to be able to cover but a fraction of what is out there. Additionally the target audience is not entomologists but rather more causal insect and nature lovers. As a result the selection of insects that are covered is limited. The authors in the introduction state that the guide focuses on "naked-eye entomology".

There are a few pages in the beginning devoted to non-insect invertebrates (spiders, millipedes, ...). It would have been nice if this section was a bit more comprehensive, then again maybe this foreshadows a future Kaufman Spiders field guide!

The pictures are all very nice and the book overall is very pleasing to the eye. The cover and binding seem like they will stand up to field use. Overall I am very pleased with this book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in insects.
82 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Pretty Pictures, Not Enough Substance. 16 Feb. 2007
By Nemo T. Ocera - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Turtleback
Alas, a good insect field guide is hard to come by. When I ordered the Kaufman guide I was optomistic that it could replace the badly outdated Peterson's guide; sadly this is not the case.

For a neophyte looking to ID your common backyard bugs this would suffice. There are plenty of wonderful pictures that can't otherwise be found in printed form. But for a serious student of entomology this 'guide' is of minimal use. There is virtually no information given to help in IDing a specimen. The guide goes with a purely visual approach which is simply not efficient for studying the great diversity of North American Hexapoda; unfortunately there is still no good choice for an up-to-date compact guide. For exhaustiveness, try picking up a copy of Borror & Delong's.

Even with its faults, I would still recommend picking this one up. The Kaufman guide is a good value, even if it will only be useful for the weekend entomologists out there.
57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Great Photos Not Much Else 18 Feb. 2007
By Kyle Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Turtleback
The pictures in this book are wonderful, the info is solid, but where are distriution maps, or any helpful info for finding the specimen? There is the occasional "It occurs in most of the mideastern states" or something along that line, but thats not narrow enough for me, plus all the info on the insects is just a paragraph or two about that insect family, not really specifing on individuals. All in all its a very nice book, but I guess I was looking forward to more, and I was let down, but I would still recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing beautiful insect pictures and learning the very basic information about them.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A Grown-Up Golden Guide! 17 July 2008
By Marilyn Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Turtleback
I think this book is perfect. It has just enough of everything so that the book is affordable and light enough to really be a FIELD guide. The pictures are terrific...there are just enough on a page so your eye can easily scan when you are looking for a particular insect.

This guide has about 400 pages and more than 2,350 images so OF COURSE it isn't going to have lots of details about every insect. And since, according to one reviewer, there are about 10,000 insects in North America, OF COURSE it isn't going to have every insect. What it DOES have is enough illustrations so you can find something VERY close if you can't find the exact insect. With that information, you can go to the internet and look up the details without wading through lots of irrelevant material--I was spending FAR too much time on whatsthatbug dot com and bugguide dot net before I got this book.

This is the handiest insect book I have had since I was about 6 and wore out my Golden Guide! If you are debating about getting the book, just do it--it's only about $13 and this is Amazon--you can send it back if you don't like it. I'm betting you won't be sending it back.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Best in class 8 Dec. 2007
By lelliott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Turtleback
I see several reviews that indicate that information is lacking in this field guide. Well, it's a FIELD guide to the insects of North America. This is quite a daunting task. When I ordered this book, I was dubious that this book could fill this niche any better than any of the other field guide sized books on insects of this huge region. I was pleasantly surprised. In my opinion, this guide does an excellent job of covering species one is likely to encounter, but also representatives of strange or unusual species. Yes, it's a little skimpy on detailed information, but that is what is required in bringing a survey of biodiversity this variable to the field. As far as I know, there are no guides of any kind that provide range maps for all these (some little known) taxa. Yes, some well-known groups have useful range maps, but these are guides (and sometimes full-sized books) that deal with a single order of insects.

If you want a book small enough to take into the field, with an excellent representation of images for this highly diverse group of animals, this is the best I've used. Or, if you want an inexpensive and accessible resource to identify that brown, six-legged thing in your bath tub, this might be what you're looking for. If you are looking for a comprehensive reference on the diversity of insect life in North America, with images, range maps, keys, natural history, etc...., keep looking and let me know when you find one.

I'm not an entomologist, but have completed graduate course work in entomology.
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