on 12 April 2013
This is a very comprehensive book and a must have for anybody interested in these small but very interesting insects. You will find in it most of the species that you will see in the field. Although it is essentially an identifying guide, it also gives a lot of information on the life cycle/behaviour of the hoverflies (information that will make you whisper - Gosh! I did not know that!). It also helps you to identify difficult groups by looking at the veins on the wings with crystal clear pictures and comments. There are distribution maps for each species as well as status. The book is not heavy and compact and can be put in a rucksack for field use. I really can't find anything negative about it!
on 28 April 2013
This book is just what was needed to get new people interested in studying/recording hoverflies. The number and quality of the photos are first-class, especially as key characteristics/features are highlighted on them.
There are clear and concise details on the distribution, ecology, phenology etc. of the majority of species, far more than you would expect find from an introduction to a family of insects. This results in a book that is not too large or heavy to take out into the field. It will certainly be an ever-present in my rucksack!
The price is also very affordable, which will mean that it will also be attractive to teenagers and children. Entomology, like most of natural science, needs to engage with the younger generation and this could just be the book to kick start their interest.
on 22 April 2013
Since retireing as a professional biomedical researcher I have returned to my childhood roots of investigating the wonderful diversity of life. I have been gathering easy to use taxonomic guides and this is excellent of the newer photographic type. I find good drawings compliment photographs so ideally guides would contain both. The life history information is fascinating and I have learnt even more extrodinary aspects of insect diversity - there are some nasty critters out there. The keys are very well illustrated and focus on features that do not require any dissection. I can,t help but feel in the days of face recognition software that there should be some way of using a computer based system for identification. This sort of photographic guide is a good starting point for the development of this type of approach. I am not an expert on this group of insects, but for a budding insect spotter this is a very approachable and well organised book.
on 25 July 2013
I've been using Stubbs and Falk's standard guide for many years, and have been happy with the keys and descriptions, and really like the superb paintings. This book isn't quite a replacement, as it omits a few of the rarest and those which need a microscope for identification. But this guide is even more approachable. It's so logically laid out, with clear photos of each important feature, that it removes the uncertainties and gives me much greater confidence that I've identified something correctly, or that I don't have enough information to reach a species name. It works very well indeed with specimens of hoverflies, but is also very effective in trying to name photographs. It's also a great aid to working out which photo angles are needed to enable an identification.
A pleasure to use, good to browse through, and a strong incentive to get outside and see more hoverflies.
on 26 August 2013
This is an excellent guide to Britain's Hoverflies, and fully achieves its aims, particularly to help the field naturalist with those species that can be identified in the field without recourse to a microscope. For the remainder, as recommended in this book, you'll need a copy of Stubbs and Falk and access to a microscope.
on 11 April 2013
Britain's hoverflies is a beautiful, beautiful guide and does the near-impossible: it allows you to identify hoverflies from photographs. Experts used to tell me that this is not possible, you need the scientific keys. The authors, 2 of the leading British hoverfly-experts, must have been fully aware of the fact that there are many like me: non-scientists people with an interest in the, often very pretty, hoverflies, who love taking macro pictures of them.
In their introduction they clearly state the limitation of photography versus collecting specimens and what you can and cannot identify in the field. 165 of the 281 British species are described and photographed - the commonor, most widespread ones are all included.
The photographs are absolutely stunning but not only that, the features needed for id are clearly marked in the photographs or in additional close-up details of diagnostic features like hairs on the compound eyes etc.
A real bonus of this book to me is these excellent detail photographs. These features are often just described in text in the 'proper' keys, which often left me wondering whether or not I was looking at the proper body part at all - there's no confusion any more thanks to this guide.
Not withstanding the arguments other reviewers made to buy this book elsewhere, I'm glad Amazon sells it too, it may bring an interest to hoverflies to a much larger public, which they so deserve. And it could yield more much welcome properly identified hoverfly-records.