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Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

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Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America Image courtesy of Pricegrabber

The Bottom Line

If you're an insect enthusiast or naturalist, the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America is a must have book for your collection. The text reads more like a natural history book than a field guide, and the illustrations make insect identification easy. It's portable, as any good field guide should be, with a durable soft vinyl cover. It's an excellent reference for those with limited knowledge of insects, and for experienced amateur entomologists.

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Pros

  • Excellent coverage of the most commonly encountered insects
  • Pictorial table of contents
  • One-page, color-coded index of common names
  • Portable and durable for use in the field

Cons

  • Text layout cluttered, particularly in the introductory material

Description

  • A compact field guide to insects of the U.S. and Canada (excluding Hawaii)
  • Over 2,350 full color illustrations based on photographs
  • Organized by major insect groups with color-coded chapters
  • Written by Eric R. Eaton and Kenn Kaufman

Guide Review - Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

While thumbing through books in an independent bookstore in New Orleans in 2007, I stumbled on the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. It only took a few minutes of browsing its pages for me to realize this would be an invaluable resource. I bought a copy on the spot. Since then, I've used this reference almost daily.

I'm not usually a fan of illustrated field guides (as opposed to guides with color photographs). In the Kaufman Guide, however, the illustrations were created by digitally enhancing high quality photographs. The images are both artistic and accurate, and captured my attention immediately. The full color insect images appear against the white background of the page, giving the user a clear and uncluttered view of each insect's features.

Principal author Eric R. Eaton packed a wealth of information into the Kaufman Guide's 392 pages. He provides key facts about each order and family, all written with the novice in mind. Eaton's descriptions read more like a natural history narrative than a field guide. He includes interesting behaviors and habits of the insects profiled, which can be a real aid to insect identification, in my opinion.

Cicindela are alert, sun-loving tiger beetles exhibiting shorebird behavior: Run, Stop, Run. Fly a short distance if startled.

I'm less enamored of the introduction to the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. The layout is cluttered, with lengthy paragraphs and little white space on the pages. I suspect most readers will skip reading the valuable information about insect anatomy and identification included in these pages, which lack any visual appeal or order. I assume the blame for this poor design goes to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin.

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