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The Titles


Peterson Colouring Book Guides: Butterflies, by Robert Michael Pyle and Sarah Anne Hughes
Peterson Colouring Book Guides: Insects, by Robert Michael Pyle and Kristin Kest
Peterson Flash Guides: Butterflies, by Paul Opler and Amy Bartlett Wright
Peterson First Guides: Butterflies and Moth, by Paul Opler and Amy Bartlett Wright
Peterson First Guides: Insects, by Christopher Leahy and Richard E. White
Peterson Field Guides: Western Butterflies, by J.W. Tilden and Arthur C. Smith
Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies, by Paul A. Opler and Vichai Malikul
Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths, by Charles V. Clovell, Jr
Peterson Field Guides: Insects, by Donald J. Borror and Richard E. White
Peterson Field Guides: Beetles, by Richard E. White

The Reviews

Peterson Field Guides: Insects

by Donald J. Borror and Richard E. White

ISBN = 0 395 18523 8
Price = $17.00
Published = 1970
Review written = 29/April/1998
410 pages.
16 colour plates illustrating 140 species

Britain and to some extent Europe is the home of Natural History, and there is no doubt that the Collins Field Guides, and other similar Guides are the best in the world. They are the yard-stick by which I judge similar publications from the rest of the world and these other publications often look poor beside them. However it is a pleasure to say that the Peterson Field Guides are the closest I have come so far to finding their equal and undoubtedly the best I have seen from outside of the UK. All of them strive to high standards and for the interested amateur who does not really want to deal with proper keys or regional works they are excellent.

This volume does not aim to allow you to identify all the insects you find to species, to do that you will need to buy the proper keys to families or other similar sized groups, instead it aims at allowing you to place the insects in the correct order and family, it then goes on to illustrate a number of the more common species. There are about 88 000 species of insects recorded from North America and it would take a book much larger than this just to list them all (see. American Insects; A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico, by R. H. Arnett, Jr. a somewhat more expensive and altogether massive publication which attempts to do just that).

This volume starts with a 56 page introduction to the biology of insects including sections on Collecting and Preserving Insects, Work with Living Insects, The Structure of Insects, Growth and Development of Insects, Classifying and Naming Insects. This is followed by an introduction to arthropods in general. The Systematic section begins with a table delineating the major characteristics of each orders which occur in N. America. Each order is headed by a general description which includes Identification, Similar Orders, Immature stages, Habits, Importance and Classification. Every family is illustrated with several representative species and in most cases information is also provided on suborders or major families. In some cases keys are provided to subordinal groups such as to families for Diplura, Embioptera and Chalcidoidae and Major families of Beetles. The illustrations are larger than life and are provided with silhouettes indicating real life size. Also in my opinion they would have done better to have more and smaller images on the colour plates, it is not difficult to get 16 to 20 highly visible images per plate in a book of this size. The images have the colour density set too high and the yellow balance is too heavy, they are also over glossed but these are more likely faults of the producers rather than the artist as they occur in several volumes. The end-papers supply a visual key to the principal orders.

The book ends with a Glossary, a Bibliography conveniently divided up into orders and an Index. The Bibliography has nothing in it later than 1965 and as such is really quite out of date. Otherwise this is another useful volume from the Peterson stable.
Highly Recommended

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Peterson Field Guides: Beetles

by Richard E. White

ISBN = 0 395 33953 7
Price = $16.95
Published = 1983
Review written = 29/April/1998
370 pages.
12 colour plates illustrating 65 species

Britain and to some extent Europe is the home of Natural History, and there is no doubt that the Collins Field Guides, and other similar Guides are the best in the world. They are the yard-stick by which I judge similar publications from the rest of the world and these other publications often look poor beside them. However it is a pleasure to say that the Peterson Field Guides are the closest I have come so far to finding their equal and undoubtedly the best I have seen from outside of the UK. All of them strive to high standards and for the interested amateur who does not really want to deal with proper keys or regional works they are excellent.

This volume does not aim to allow you to identify the beetles you find to species, to do that you will need to buy the proper keys to families or other similar sized groups, instead it aims at allowing you to place the beetle in the correct family and then goes on to illustrate a number of the more common species. There are about 28 000 species of beetles recorded from North America and it would take a book of nearly this size just to list them all.

This volume starts with a 55 page introduction to the biology of beetles including sections on Collecting Beetles, Preparing and Identifying Beetles, The Structure of Beetles, Growth and Development of Beetles, Classifying and Naming Beetles. This is followed by an introduction to insects similar to beetles and then a table delineating the following characteristics (Number of Species in N. America, Range, Abundance, Habitat, Length and Antennal Characteristics) of the 111 families covered by the book. The family accounts supply information on: Description, Similar Species, Range and Numbers, Habits, Collecting Methods and Examples. Nearly every family is illustrated with several representative species, the illustrations are larger than life and are provided with silhouettes indicating real life size. Also in my opinion they would have done better to have more and smaller images on the colour plates, it is not difficult to get 16 to 20 highly visible images per plate in a book of this size. The images are also over glossed but this is more likely a fault of the producers than the artist.

The book ends with a Glossary, an Annotated Bibliography of selected references (quite a bit out of date now), addresses for Book dealers, Microscope manufacturers, a list of Supply Houses and an Index. The end-papers supply a visual key to the major families. All in all another good value volume from the Peterson stable, though it could do with some up-dating and I think it would be much more valuable if it included relevent literature for each family informing people where to go for keys to genera etc..
Highly Recommended

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Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths

by Charles V. Clovell, Jr

ISBN = 0 395 36100 1
Price = $17.95
Published = 1984
Review written = 29/April/1998
500 pages
32 colour plates and 32 B/W plates + 74 B/W line drawings

Britain and to some extent Europe is the home of Natural History, and there is no doubt that the Collins Field Guides, and other similar Guides are the best in the world. They are the yard-stick by which I judge similar publications from the rest of the world and these other publications often look poor beside them. However it is a pleasure to say that the Peterson Field Guides are the closest I have come so far to finding their equal and undoubtedly the best I have seen from outside of the UK. All of them strive to high standards and for the interested amateur who does not really want to deal with proper keys or regional works they are excellent.

This volume describes 1300 moths from east of the Great Plains, from Greenland to Mexico, representing slightly less than 25 percent of the species from the area covered. However most of those not covered will be rare and with limited distributions.The book starts with a 30 page introduction to the biology of moths including sections on Anatomy, Life cycles, Collecting and Studying and Classification. The species accounts are divided into family and subfamily groups as you would expect with each family introduction containing a brief morphological description and an illustration of the wing venation. Each species entry supplies information on: Common name, Scientific name, Description of Adult; Larval food plants; Flight times; Range and sometimes Similar Species.

The book ends with a Glossary, a Bibliography of selected references (quite a bit out of date now), addresses for 2 Lepidopterists Societies in North America (this is out of date as well there are certainly more now), a list of Supply Houses, a list of Species Author Names with Abbreviations and an Index. All in all another valuable volume from the Peterson stable, though it could seriously do with some up-dating.
Highly Recommended

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Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies

by Paul A. Opler and Vichai Malikul

ISBN = 0 395 63279 X
Price = $16.95
Published = 1992
Review written = 29/April/1998
400 pages
104 colour plates

Britain and to some extent Europe is the home of Natural History, and there is no doubt that the Collins Field Guides, and other similar Guides are the best in the world. They are the yard-stick by which I judge similar publications from the rest of the world and these other publications often look poor beside them. However it is a pleasure to say that the Peterson Field Guides are the closest I have come so far to finding their equal and undoubtedly the best I have seen from outside of the UK. All of them strive to high standards and for the interested amateur who does not really want to deal with proper keys or regional works they are excellent.

This volume describes nearly all the butterflies east of the Great Plains, from Greenland to Mexico, a total of more than 520 species. The book starts with a 42 page introduction to the biology of butterflies including sections on Studying, Gardening, Conservation, Morphology, Life cycles and Butterfly habitats. The species accounts are divided into family and subfamily groups as you would expect and each entry consists of: Description of Adult; Similar species; Larval Description; Larval food plants; Flight times; Range; Habitat; and sometimes additional comments on biology are added under a heading of 'Comments'. Distribution maps are included for about 2 thirds of the species, though surprisingly they are not all in the same format with some having state boundaries and others not. The introduction of distribution maps is a considerable improvement on the volume in this series on Western Butterflies meaning that this really does supply as much information as you can really expect to get from a book dealing with this number of species.

Another improvement in this volume over Western Butterflies is that all the plates are in colour, though unfortunately several of the plates in the copy I received had been mauled by the printer making the text for plate 26 and part of plate 32 illegible and wrecking plate 36 completely.

The book ends with several appendices: A Checklist of Eastern Species; Lepidopterists Society Collecting Policy; Glossary; Bibliography (divided conveniently into 2 sections i.e. General and Regional); Directory of Entomological Equipment, Materials, Publications and Services, Supply Houses and Organisations; Index to Larval Food Plants; Index to Butterflies.

All in all a very competent work which is well worth owning and certainly should be in every library in the area it covers.
Highly Recommended

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Peterson Field Guides: Western Butterflies

by J.W. Tilden and Arthur C. Smith

ISBN = 0 395 41654 X
Price = $18.95
Published = 1986
Review written = 29/April/1998
370 pages
24 colour plates and 24 B/W plates

Britain and to some extent Europe is the home of Natural History, and there is no doubt that the Collins Field Guides, and other similar Guides are the best in the world. They are the yard-stick by which I judge similar publications from the rest of the world and these other publications often look poor beside them. However it is a pleasure to say that the Peterson Field Guides are the closest I have come so far to finding their equal and undoubtedly the best I have seen from outside of the UK. All of them strive to high standards and for the interested amateur who does not really want to deal with proper keys or regional works they are excellent.

This volume describes nearly all the butterflies west of the Great Plains, including Hawaii, a total of more than 520 species. The book starts with a 35 page introduction to the biology of butterflies including sections on collecting and setting, rearing, conservation, morphology, biology and life cycles and ending with a key to families. The species accounts are divided into family and subfamily groups as you would expect and each entry consists of: Description of Adult; Similar species; Larval Description; Larval food plants; Flight times; Range; Habitat and Subspecies. Which is as much information as you can really expect to get from a book dealing with this number of species, except perhaps for distribution maps.

The book ends with several appendices: A Checklist of Western Species; Lepidopterists Society Statement of the Committee on Collecting Policy; Casual and Stray Species; Hawaiian Butterflies; Alaskan Butterflies; Glossary; Bibliography (divided conveniently into several sections such as General, Regional, Collecting, Watching, Photographing, Painting and Drawing, Attracting and Rearing, Conservation); Directory of Entomological Equipment, Materials, Publications and Services, Supply Houses and Organisations; Index to Larval Food Plants; Index to Butterflies.

All in all a very competent work which is well worth owning and certainly should be in every library in the area it covers.
Highly Recommended

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Peterson First Guides: Insects

by Christopher Leahy and Richard E. White

ISBN = 0 395 35640 7
Price = $4.95
Published = 1987
Review written = 28/April/1998
128 pages

If your child has started off life with the normal healthy fascination for all things creepy crawly then this is the sort of book you will want to get them as soon as they can read. As you may expect a book of this size will not identify many insects to species, but it will allow kids to put a name of some sort to most of the bugs they find. Obviously if they remain interested you will be required to buy something better like the ordinary Peterson Guides in a couple of years, however entomology is a relatively cheap hobby which is exceptionally good for the mind so be happy if your child loves bugs.

The colour images are a little over shiny for my liking and some of the drawings are not that accurate, the Honey Bee on page 126 is not recognisable as such but generally speaking the images and the text do what they are designed to do quite well. There is a nice little introduction to insects including a chart listing the main characteristics of the 19 most commonly encountered groups.

All in all like its UK equivalent in the 'Collins Gem Guides' this is good value for money and well worth buying for the chance that it will help your child develop its natural love of all things living and moving.
Highly Recommended

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Peterson First Guides: Butterflies and Moth

by Paul Opler and Amy Bartlett Wright

ISBN = 0 395 67072 1
Price = $4.95
Published = 1994
Review written = 28/April/1998
128 pages

As its name implies this small book is designed as a child's 1st guide to the Lepidoptera of North America. Obviously the 183 species covered does not make much of a dent in the 11 000+ species of lepidoptera in North America. Never-the-less as most of these are scarce, only really seen at night this is a good starting point on the road to becoming an amateur lepidopterist. Each species is illustrated in colour, and is accompanied by a habitat description, which generally includes a pointer towards the larval feeding habits. As with the 'Flash Guide' to butterflies the illustrations are adequate but not brilliant, in fact for the butterflies they are exactly the same.

My personal opinion would be that unless you really want the weather proofing the lamination gives this is far better value for money than the 'Flash Guide'. It is 3 dollars cheaper, has more text per species, a good little introduction to butterfly biology and you get 60+ species of moths thrown in as well. Also because the format is slightly smaller they fit the pocket better.

All in all an ideal starter on the road to becoming a lepidopterist for any child with that natural fascination with bugs. but be warned they will soon want to graduate to the full Peterson guide and then to the appropriate regional guide.
Highly Recommended

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Peterson Flash Guides: Butterflies

by Paul Opler and Amy Bartlett Wright

ISBN = 0 395
Price = $7.95 US and $10.95 Ca
Published = 1996
Review written = 28/April/1998
Equivalent to 24 pages

This came as a bit of a surprise to me because I have not seen anything like it here in the UK. It actually consists of 12 pieces of card 4.5 inches (11.5 cm) by 8.5 inches (21.5 cm) in dimension laminated together in 2 rows of 6. The whole thing folds up like a map and they are printed on both sides, hence the equivalence to 24 pages. I haven't used it enough to know how long it takes to get fatigue along the folds, it works pretty well for the first 12 sides but when you have to open it all the way out to see the other side I can imagine it could become a bit unwieldy for a child. To be honest I am not convinced that the same sheets laminated into a small book would not be more convenient, however it is a nice idea and if you are looking for something different it is certainly that.

It illustrates 121 of the commoner species of butterflies found in North America. Each species is accompanied by its common name, its size (wing breadth in inches), a brief habitat description and a colour dot designation into one of 6 US Forest Service Ecoregions. The images are not brilliant but definitely good enough for the job they have to do, and the lamination gives it greatly enhanced weather survival.

There are a whole series of Flash Guides though currently this is the only one that deals with insects.

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Peterson Colouring Book Guides: Insects

by Robert Michael Pyle and Kristin Kest

ISBN = 0 395 67088 8
Price = $5.95
Published = 1993
Review written = 217/April/1998
64 A4pages

What a wonderful way to learn about the beauty and form of the insect world. Children naturally love bugs and learn best when actually doing something, they also generally love colouring-in, at least I did when I was a child. This book, and the others of this series offer children a wonderful educational experience combined with hours of fun.

This volume gives them the opportunity to study 247 of North America's insects and other creepy-crawlies with a chance to learn the names that go with the colours. Small real-life colour images at the front and back end of the book should allow them to practice art work and colour mixing if they are into paints, and will guide even the youngest to correct colour choice. This volume also includes various flowers and a few other assorted animals such as a horse, a cat and a chicken.

Go on let your kids get colour co-ordinated with minibeasts, using these books will do wonders for their love of nature and the insect identification, and is surely better than colouring cars or landscapes they have never seen. I think this book and its companions are a wonderful idea.
Highly Recommended

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Peterson Colouring Book Guides: Butterflies

by Robert Michael Pyle and Sarah Anne Hughes

ISBN = 0 395 34675 4
Price = ˆ4.93
Published = 1983
Review written = 27/April/1998
64 A4pages

What a wonderful way to learn about the beauty and form of some of the most glamorous and attractive members of the insect world. Children naturally love bugs, particularly butterflies and learn best when actually doing something, they also generally love colouring-in, at least I did when I was a child. This book, and the others of this series offer children a wonderful educational experience combined with hours of fun.

This volume gives them the opportunity to study 190 of North America's commonest butterflies with a chance to learn the names that go with the colours. Small real-life colour images at the front and back end of the book should allow them to practice art work and colour mixing if they are into paints, and will guide even the youngest to correct colour choice.

Go on let your kids get colour co-ordinated with minibeasts, using these books will do wonders for their love of nature and the insect identification, and is surely better than colouring cars or landscapes they have never seen. I think this book and its companions are a wonderful idea.
Highly Recommended

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