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Beetle Mania

A couple of years ago I wrote a column in Winging It about some of my favorite non-birding books for birders.  Commentators in a followup blog post generated many more great book titles that appeal to travel and unfeathered natural science topics of interest to those who pursue wild birds.


Just in time for the summer season, Princeton University Press has published another wonderful reference to keep critter-loving folks blissed out: Beetles of Eastern North America.  The scale of the book is amazing, with over 1500 images filling 560 pages.  And great news for us westerners:  A western North American edition is planned for 2018.

From the publisher:

Beetles of Eastern North America is a landmark book–the most comprehensive full-color guide to the remarkably diverse and beautiful beetles of the United States and Canada east of the Mississippi River. It is the first color-illustrated guide to cover 1,406 species in all 115 families that occur in the region–and the first new in-depth guide to the region in more than forty years. Lavishly illustrated with over 1,500 stunning color images by some of the best insect photographers in North America, the book features an engaging and authoritative text by noted beetle expert Arthur Evans.

 Extensive introductory sections provide essential information on beetle anatomy, reproduction, development, natural history, behavior, and conservation. Also included are tips on where and when to find beetles; how to photograph, collect, and rear beetles; and how to contribute to research. Each family and species account presents concise and easy-to-understand information on identification, natural history, collecting, and geographic range. Organized by family, the book also includes an illustrated key to the most common beetle families, with 31 drawings that aid identification, and features current information on distribution, biology, and taxonomy not found in other guides.

An unmatched guide to the rich variety of eastern North American beetles, this is an essential book for amateur naturalists, nature photographers, insect enthusiasts, students, and professional entomologists and other biologists.


  • Provides the only comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible full-color treatment of the region’s beetles

  • Covers 1,406 species in all 115 families east of the Mississippi River

  • Features more than 1,500 stunning color images from top photographers

  • Presents concise information on identification, natural history, collecting, and geographic range for each species and family

  • Includes an illustrated key to the most common beetle families


    This exciting book begs the question, what are your favorite non-birding books for birders?


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Bill Schmoker

Bill Schmoker

Bill is known in the birding community as a leading digital photographer of birds. Since 2001 he has built a collection of digital bird photos documenting over 640 species of North American birds. His photography has appeared in international nature publications, books, newspapers, interpretive signs, web pages, advertisements, corporate logos, and as references for art works. Also a published writer, Bill wrote a chapter for Good Birders Don't Wear White, is a past Colorado/Wyoming regional editor for North American Birds and is proud to be on the Leica Birding Team. Bill is a Colorado eBird reviewer and is especially fond of his involvement with the ABA's Institute for Field Ornithology and Young Birder Programs. Bill is a popular birding guide, speaker, and workshop instructor, and teaches middle school science in Boulder, Colorado. When he isn’t birding he enjoys family time with his wife and son.
Bill Schmoker

Latest posts by Bill Schmoker (see all)

  • Nick Block

    There are so many excellent insect field guides out there! I started as “just” a birder, but I’ve really gotten into butterflies and odonates over the years (and also tiger beetles in the last couple years).

    Favorite butterfly field guide: Brock & Kaufman’s Butterflies of North America (although I do reference Butterflies through Binoculars very often, too).

    Favorite odonate field guide: Ed Lam’s Damselflies of the Northeast. Ed’s illustrations are simply amazing! I cannot wait for his Peterson guide to dragonflies to be published soon.

    For tiger beetles, I love A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada! It’s an awesome group of insects and relatively easy to learn and manage (only ~107 species). The book is very well-done, too, with great text and good coverage of the variability within many species.

  • Peterson Reference Guide to the Behavior of North American Mammals – If you’re out birding enough, you’re bound to see some interesting mammal behavior. This will help make sense of it. I’ve found this guide incredibly useful.

    The Sibley Guide to Trees – ’nuff said

    The Natural Communities of Georgia, by Leslie Edwards, Jonathan Ambrose, and L. Katherine Kirkman – big and beautiful, I can only hope other states have a book like this.

    These are just the first few that I thought of.

  • I still love leafing through David Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America ( The comments on each species are full of amazing factoids as well as countless comments about the things we _don’t_ know about these insects, pointing both amateurs and professionals toward potential contributions to science.

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