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Field Guides & Natural History  Insects & other Invertebrates  Insects  Insects: General

Insects – Their Natural History and Diversity With a Photographic Guide to Insects of Eastern North America

Field / Identification Guide Flora / Fauna Identification Key
By: Stephen A Marshall(Author)
735 pages, 4000 colour photos and colour & b/w illustrations
Publisher: Firefly Books
Insects – Their Natural History and Diversity
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  • Insects – Their Natural History and Diversity ISBN: 9781770859623 Edition: 2 Hardback Sep 2017 In stock
Price: £64.99
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Insects – Their Natural History and DiversityInsects – Their Natural History and Diversity

About this book

Called "a milestone in insect photography" and "simply bigger, prettier and more comprehensive than any previous publication on insects," Professor Stephen Marshall's Insects is now in a new edition, with more than 500 changes to reflect the latest scientific findings since it was first published in 2006.

It is a comprehensive reference on insects featuring an easy identification guide using 28 picture keys, 4000 color photographs taken in the field (not pinned specimens), expert advice on observing insects, and more.

Insects enables readers and starting entomologists to identify most insects quickly and accurately. More than 50 pages of picture keys lead to appropriate chapters and specific photos, to confirm identification. The keys are surprisingly comprehensive and easy for non-specialists to use.

Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity has been widely and thoroughly praised. It is now ready for a new generation of new, and lifetime students of entomology.

Customer Reviews


Stephen Marshall is a professor of entomology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, where he developed a major insect collection and carries out research on insect systematics and biodiversity. He has discovered hundreds of new species, several new genera, and two new subfamilies.

Field / Identification Guide Flora / Fauna Identification Key
By: Stephen A Marshall(Author)
735 pages, 4000 colour photos and colour & b/w illustrations
Publisher: Firefly Books
Media reviews

Review of the first edition:

"This is not a coffee table book. Do not be fooled by its large format or lavish colour photo spreads. It is actually more like attending a series of third year entomology lectures, complete with visuals, given by the best lecturer you have ever seen. Based on author Stephen A. Marshall's experience teaching such a course, the book provides information on every insect order and family found in North America (i.e. west of the Mississippi and north of Georgia). Included with each are details on things like taxonomy, ecological relationships, predators and predator defenses, and relationships to people, from economics to disease vectors. Marshall presents this information in such a fascinating and idiosyncratic fashion that you get no sense of the routine approach to classification typical of many field guides. Nature nuggets abound, and this book should become the interpretive naturalist's best friend. It is also a field guide, with well-illustrated and constructed keys and photos which go from 'where should I start with this bug?' to the family/sub-family level for all of North American insects. This is a book for the serious amateur or student who wishes to be immersed in the insect world, and would be well-placed on the bookshelf of biology teachers and outdoor centres. But don't take my word, take E. O. Wilson's (the father of modern biodiversity studies): I wish I'd had Stephen Marshall's book when I started out in entomology."
– Alan Crook, Green Teacher, on 01/04/2014

"This volume is big, beautiful, well written, and informative [...] Very few insect books describe or show as many insects as this author has [...] Each family is introduced in several pages of excellent text and is followed by hundreds of photographs with fact-filled captions [...] The material is up to date, the text remarkably free of typographical errors, and the book is printed on fine-quality paper. In addition to describing the diversity, natural history, and behavior of insects, the author provides many examples of insects being used for biological control. The final chapter offers suggestions for collecting, preserving, and photographing insects. A very well illustrated key to insect families and to some common insect larvae is included. I recommend this truly valuable tome very highly; it should be in every high school, college, and municipal library in northeastern North America."
– Paul P. Shubeck, emeritus, Montclair State University, Science Books and Film on 01/06/2010

"Clearly this represents the life work of a fine scientist [...] I urge every library to make them available."
– Gerry Rising, State University of New York Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus, The Buffalo News and Buffalo University on 02/03/2008

"Stunning [...] a powerful, "must-have" identification tool [...] The strength of the work is the collection of over 4,000 color photographs (and) well-written captions. Most of the images are of living insects in the field, including many uncommon species I'd wager most entomologists have never seen alive [...] It is hard to describe the mix of awe, amazement, and perhaps intimidation at Marshall's photographic and entomological accomplishment [...] There is simply no book approaching the comprehensiveness of Marshall's. It is in a league of its own."
– Derek Sikes, University of Alaska Museum, Fairbanks, AK, American Entomology, Vol. 54, No. 1, Spring 2008, journal of the Ento on 01/03/2008

– J.B. MacKinnon, Explore on 01/10/2007

"[Selected as one of 2007's Outstanding Reference Sources] Some 4,000 detailed color photographs of individual species in their natural environments afford the user the opportunity to view the insects as they appear in life."
– Reference Sources Committee, ALA Reference and User Services Association Booklist on 15/05/2007

"[A] jam-packed colorful reference [...] for serious science libraries."
– Diane C. Donovan, The Midwest Book Review  on 01/05/2007

"A wealth of information is provided for the work's less-than-$100 price."
– Jeff Schwartz, 2007 Chair, RUSA Reference Sources Committee American Libraries on 01/05/2007

"Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity isn't for the general-interest holding so much as the college-level collection catering to entomologists. Insects of Eastern North America are the focus in a jam-packed colorful reference displaying insects within their order and including notes on their introduction, habitats, coloring and more. It's the professional's solid reference to identification and habits, making it a top basic reference pick for serious science libraries."
– Bookwatch on 01/05/2007

"An impressive book [...] Informative and fascinating."
– N. Glenn Perrett, Sideroads of Caledon and Erin on 01/04/2007

"This volume is an incredibly important, masterfully written, and profusely illustrated work that belongs in the library of every field biologist, educator, student and naturalist who professes more than just a passing interest in insects. It is also an essential reference work for city, school, and university libraries [...] I heartily applaud Stephen Marshall's efforts and skill in crafting such a beautiful, useful, and engaging book that is destined to become a natural history classic.
– Arthur V. Evans, Research Collaborator, Dept. of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution and Dept. of Recent Invertebrates, Virginia M on 01/01/2007

"Magnificent [...] thousands of photographs that allow identification of almost any insect to family and many to genus or species [...] a delight to read due to Marshall's wry sense of humor and idiosyncratic enthusiasms."
– Frederic F. Burchsted, American Reference Books Annual on 01/01/2007

"Detailed color photographs [...] designed to be as user-friendly as possible."
– Booklist on 01/01/2007

"Outstanding and should be on the bookshelf of every natural historian – insect lover or not – in eastern North America [...] ideally suited for anyone with an interest in insects, from the curious backyard observer to the experienced field naturalist or professional biologist [...] comprehensive, easy-to-use [...] a beautiful and informative guide [...] loaded with 4000 stunning photographs made by the author, thus offering a level of uniformity between illustration and description often absent in many such books. Indeed, the photography is so spectacular that this volume could stand alone as a coffee table book of insects [...] contains a wealth of biological facts and natural history trivia [...] Put simply, not only is this book a wonderful field guide, it will serve as a fertile source of research ideas for students of entomology [...] It would not surprise me if, decades from now, professional biologists credit Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity with inspiring them to do what they do – it's that good."
– Clint D. Kelly, Postdoctoral Fellow, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, School of Botany and Zoology, on 01/12/2006

"Magnificent [...] an exceptionally large "field guide" that laboratory workers with some background will find indispensable, but that anyone at all interested in insects will warmly welcome. [...] Countless photographs (many of rarely viewed insect families/species) make it an unmatched resource. [...] fantastic variety of illustrated species [...] This remarkable book is destined to become a fixture in all general entomological collections. Summing Up: Essential. All levels."
– P.K. Lago, University of Mississippi, Choice on 01/11/2006

"Written at a level accessible to college students in introductory biology courses as well as motivated laypeople [...] Some 4,000 detailed color photographs of individual species in their natural environments afford the user the opportunity to view the insects as they appear in life. More than 50 pages of illustrated keys to the identification of insect groups are designed to be as user-friendly as possible [...] Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity is notable for its numerous color photographs, accessible language, and relatively simple-to-use identification keys. It is highly recommended for public, academic, and special libraries, particularly those in northeastern North America."
– Nancy Cannon, Booklist on 15/10/2006

"This amazing six-pound volume, which offers more than 4000 excellent color photographs and concise, accurate information about every major insect family worldwide [...] Bottom Line: This book is simply bigger, prettier, and more comprehensive than any previous publication on insects and will be useful to amateur and professional alike. It belongs in every public and school library."
– Annette Aiello, Library Journal on 15/09/2006

"Dazzling and tremendously helpful to anyone who wants to know about insects [...] I'm honored to hold it in my hands."
– Ed Kanze, Hersam Acorn Newspapers (NY State) on 14/09/2006

"I cannot wait to try this text in my insect-biology class [...] This is an outstanding contribution to entomology. It will play an important role in the training of insect lovers for the foreseeable future."
– William E. Conner, American Scientist on 01/09/2006

"The perfect reference book even for those of us with a limited interest in bugs. The book is perfect for birders [...] To spend an afternoon comparing bugs and pictures, learning about what is in the backyard and having this intimate glimpse into a bird's life is heavenly to me."
– Noreen O'Brien, Main Courier-Gazette on 03/08/2006

"For the backyard enthusiast [...] Marshall designed this books so that a reader can easily identify just about any given bug by order or family."
– Nathan Whitlock, Quill and Quire on 01/08/2006

"Whether one is seeking mastery of an understanding of insects or is content with occasionally satisfying his or her curiosity about a particular encounter with an insect, this volume is an excellent resource. The book has coffee-table quality combined with practitioner-level relevance."
– Marvin K. Harris, Science Books and Films on 01/07/2006

"With over 4000 color photographs taken virtually all in the wild, this book is the most comprehensive photographic overview of insects ever published [...] The breadth of this book, covering all the insect diversity in eastern North America, including a tremendous amount of biological information that is explained and captured with wonderful photographs, will ensure that the book is a landmark reference in entomology for years to come."
– Jeffrey Cumming, Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Canada on 01/06/2006

"When this book first crossed my desk, to say that I was instantly enamored would be an understatement. It was beautiful, the cover adorned with a stunning jewel-toned dogbane beetle [...] I almost didn't want to crack the binding [but] once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. Visually stunning [...] Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity has the look and feel of a glossy coffee table book while still being full of accurate, well-researched information [...] Priced so as not to be cost prohibitive [...] clearly written in plain language, it will be highly accessible to a broad audience, including naturalists, amateur entomologists as well as seasoned professionals. The author has also included a dollop of humour and wit throughout [...] This book would make a great textbook for a natural history or general entomology course [...] With its depth of scope and true to life photographs Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity would be indispensable in the field. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone who has an interest in entomology, natural history or a simple curiosity about the six-legged world that surrounds us"
– Gina Penny, Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia Canadian Field Naturalist, vol. 120 on 01/01/2006

"If fascinating isn't a word you tend to use in conversations about canker worms [...] or any other arthropod with a head, thorax, and abdomen, Marshall is determined to change your way of thinking. He accomplished this with information about members of the 33 insect orders that is clear and in places absolutely riveting. This biological and ecological knowledge is enhanced by more than 4000 photographs that he has taken of insects in their natural habitats [...] The volume's value to younger children should not be overlooked [...] Marshall's Insects is an invaluable resource for those who want to know more about the biology and behaviour of a particular insect and for those interested in biodiversity, insect classification, and the impact of insects on commerce and human health. Highly Recommended."
– Barbara McMillan, Canadian Materials on 01/01/2006

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