Backyard Insects is my favourite book about insects and is the first I recommend. It features the types of insects (or other terrestrial invertebrates) that you could commonly find in your backyard or at your local park.
The guide is 300 pages long and features a wide variety of insects. Some species, like grasshoppers and katydids, only get one page and picture. Other species like butterflies feature 10 species. This is appropriate considering how butterflies are more visible. In all cases, this is enough of a springboard for the reader to do their own research/
It is very user-friendly. It is easy to flip through and find a species that looks familiar. The language is easy to understand. It doesn’t go too deep into taxonomy. This can help beginners avoid overwhelm.
It is the best beginner book for people trying to identify common insects and bugs found in their local environment. It makes a great present for both children and adults.
Book Review: A Naturalist’s Guide To The Insects Of Australia
The Naturalists Guide is the second book that I would recommend to beginners. The book features 292 species of insect that are reasonably common in Australia.
It crams those species in 176 pages. This is useful if you want to flick through a book and find a species that looks familiar. It also means that a lot of relevant information is excluded. The profiles describe what a specimen looks like but doesn’t explain how to be sure of the identification.
I don’t believe the format is enough for insect identification; however, the beginner can still learn a lot. It depends on how much you are trying to learn and just how much work you are willing to do yourself. I would recommend it to the person who likes to browse to find an image before doing additional research.
I found this approach to be a lot more beginner-friendly than other guides. Backyard Insects is of a higher standard and is easier to read, but it doesn’t have the same diversity of species as this guide. Miniature Lives required users to pay more attention to morphological features and habitat. Insects of South-Eastern Australia asks readers to observe how the insect interacts with the environment. These are essential skills, but can initially be overwhelming.
I would recommend it for beginners as long as you are aware of the limitations.
Insects of South-Eastern Australia
Insects of South-Eastern Australia is a useful book for those who have gone past the beginner stage, but aren’t comfortable with field guides.
Insect species are organized according to their feeding strategies. This approach it forces you to think about the insect in relation to its environment. Readers are encouraged to seek out identifications according to whether an insect is a plant feeder, predator, parasitoid or decomposer.
I would recommend it for advanced beginners; those who have bought Backyard Insects and find that it no longer suits their needs. The information is disorganized but you can flick through the book and refer to it later as your knowledge increases. This is especially worth it when reading the hidden tidbits in the captions.
The book isn’t useful for those whose main goal is identifying insects. It’s very useful for those who know they want to learn more about insects but don’t know where to start.
This is the perfect book for readers who are wanting to learn more advanced methods of identifying species. Miniature lives is a user-friendly guide that help the reader build up the necessary skills to identify insects. It encourages you to think about the morphological characteristics, habitat and structures that they may leave behind.
It is the perfect book for beginners who have learned as much as they can from Backyard Insects but aren’t quite ready for Insects of South Eastern Australia. It will require a lot more work, but this extra work is necessary if you want to learn more about insects.
As it is slightly more advanced, readers won’t always be able to identify a specimen to species level based on this guide. It’s likely you’ll need further resources. However, it allows the layperson to learn more about entomology without scaring them away.
Garden Pests, Diseases and Good Bugs: The Ultimate Illustrated Guide for Australian Gardeners
Garden Pests, Diseases and Good Bugs is a brilliant book for any gardener. It will help you identify the various insects in your backyard and how they interact with your garden. You’ll learn how to identify the beneficial insects in your garden and how to control (or eradicate) pest insects. It also helps you identify any diseases, disorders or deficiencies.
The guide is very comprehensive at 464 pages. Over 200 of those pages are dedicated to the pest species. The chapters are broken down according to the type of insect. These chapters feature multiple, brief species profiles. The profiles have multiple images of insects at different stages in their life cycle.
This book is similar to Backyard Insects in that it focuses on the insects you find in your garden. It goes one step further: it helps you learn how the various insects interact with the plants in your garden.
I would highly recommend it to any gardener.