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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 1 September 2013
Well what can I say. After recently deciding to taking my amateur entomology (bug geek) hobby a bit more seriously, I decided to purchase a book that I could take out into the field with me. I shopped around and read a lot of reviews and in the end decided on Chinery - mainly because it was the most recent (2012). And I am glad I did, because I was not disappointed.

The book begins with an explanation of distributions, insect families and how to identify them and each insect is represented by a clear and high detailed painting (not photograph!). Whist I originally saw this as a downside and thus considered Chinery and Gibbons, Insect (Collins Gem), I preserved with this title through sheer weight of reviews. This I feel was the correct decision, as since having flicked through the Collins Gem title I found that with photographs the guide is held hostage to the print and photo quality, light and composition of the photo when trying to identify a subject, issue which are not present with the paintings in this title. On the opposite page of the photos are the corresponding names (Common (where available) followed by the scientific (or latin) name), information of distribution, habitat, and seasonal availability, usually followed by a piece of interesting behavioural trivia.

However, a couple of things should be noted:

1. The butterfly, moth section and beetle section make up a vary large part of this book (understandably due to genus size and 'laymen' interest in these groups), yet not all caterpillars are shown for all moth and butterfly species and no pupae are shown whatsoever. Therefore, if your interest is primarily in these species you may wish to consider Lewington's Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland or Townsend and Waring's Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland instead. Also the picture of the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) whilst taking pride of place on the front cover, is frustratingly pictured inside the book at rest with it's wing closed (again not a massive problem)

2. The True Bug (hemiptera) section whilst very helpful, only shows adult markings for shield and squash bugs. Whilst this is helpful to a degree, it can make the identification for nymphs problematic as their markings can differ from adults. Moreover, whilst the book list the major grasshopper species, their markings and colour forms in the description it only displays one colour form in the illustrations. Again this could be frustrating to layperson who is seeking to identify a specie primarily from the images.

Overall this book has been a fantastic resource and has not only allowed me to identify countless butterflies, dragonflies, water insects, beetles and more, it even held its own in a recent summer trip to the Ukraine. Covering Western Europe as well (whatever this means, as the book does not define it), the book also contains an excellent section the praying mantis species found on the continent as an added bonus!

All in all I wouldn't hesitate to by this book for anyone looking to get out and do some insect fancying. A must buy, I don't think you'll find a more comprehensive and yet accessible book on insects of this quality. However, if you are looking for a more in depth guide to a specific family or genus I would suggest you look elsewhere. Chinery's book is more of an overview to take into the field, than an exhaustive compendium.
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on 23 January 2013
I'm very impressed with this guide, it's the right size to carry on trips and the illustrations are excellent. My daughter came home to visit from Sheffield University where she's studying biology and said 'that's the book we've been recommended for our insect IDs', which is a recommendation in itself. Buy it - you won't regret it.
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on 22 August 2013
There are very many illustrations and I felt confused at times by the similarity of these. I was also slightly confused by the size of insects. I realise it is a field guide but perhaps it is my fault I did not choose a larger book with clearer and lifesize illustrations and some photographs. I like the caterpillar illustrations to accompany relevant insects.
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on 1 November 2013
I have had so much use out of this field book. Anything I see I look it up. not every insect in the book but has moths, butterflies, dragonflies, beetles terrestrial and aquatic. Mayflies, damselflies, caterpillars, flies, wasps, bees and so on....
Has hand painted illustrations with latin name alongside and a brief bit about the insect and how to identify it
Ideal paperback for older children and adults to use in the field or at home.
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on 27 May 2015
Great book, gives you an idea of what things are (family and species, but not actual size, as far as I can tell) to google particular species, as there are too many to fit in a book, and to remember for a casual observer. Great pictures, easy to see the caterpillars of butterflies and moths, but fewer fly and bug larvae- again enough to know if its going to eat your garden or not. Odd though that ringlet wasn't in the index under its common name, but that's indexes for you- never perfect and always too small a print... this one is ok- don't need a magnifying glass.

Update: The pictures are not too good when using to identify ones you don't know just from looking. The colours are slightly out eg. drinker moth larvae is green in the book, but brown everywhere in real life. And some of the obvious details are less significant, or the balance of detail is a bit misleading for the novice. Glad it was 9.99 and not full RRP, still a great one to look at tho' to guide an internet search.
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on 18 December 2013
This book is excellent as a basic, functional reference guide. It's exactly what I wanted; big enough to be clear, and just small enough to fit in bag or big pocket. Illustrations are excellent, clear,detailed, and very nice to just look for the artistry of them..Buy this book if you are interested in insects.
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on 1 July 2014
The book is ok with nice illustrations but the European side of it was not really needed. Also I find the inclusion of Butterflies and Moths pointless - not all species included and there are other excellent books that cover them.
The new Comprehensive guide to Insects of Britain and Ireland is better, although it still covers the Lepidoptera
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on 10 January 2014
I was looking for a book to improve my basic knowledge of insects, this really fits the bill. Without going too deep this book is very informative with excellant colour drawings for recognition. Much better than photographs for clarity. A definite for anybody with an interest in insects. Also has a section on arachnids. Would recommend.
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on 7 November 2013
We used it in France to identify insects, our 7 year old granddaughter loved using it. She had hours of fun trapping moths and butterflies with an upturned net lobster-pot basket, identifying species from the book and keeping a list. It's good to take out as a large pocket guide. Indispensable!
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on 23 December 2013
An excellent, compact, beautifully illustrated guide to the insects of Britain and Western Europe. I much prefer illustrations to photographs for identification and these are superb. The introductory identification key is very clear and simple to use. It also, somewhat unusually for a book on insects, includes a brief guide to the arachnids, which is very useful.

A favourite book and much used reference that I would recommend to anyone.
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