Field Guide Advice Needed

Can anyone recommended a butterfly field guide?  Is Peterson good?

8 thoughts on “Field Guide Advice Needed”

    1. The websites are wonderful, but I want to get an actual physical book, and I’m thinking of a more general one covering the eastern U.S. (or the whole U.S. – Sibley needs to do a butterfly book!). I won’t be in Georgia forever.

  1. I’ve liked the Kaufman Guide way more than Petersen. Has been my go-to for years.

    But as of a couple of months ago, I’ll second the Daniels recommendation . . . it’s nice to not have to wade through gazillions of obscure Western butterflies.

    1. Yeah, after reading reviews on Amazon it sounds like Kaufman is the way to go. I’m sure the Daniels book is great, but I may only be staying in Georgia through May, and since I typically go to Arizona a couple times a year it wouldn’t hurt to have a book that covers western species as well.

  2. Thanks for asking the question — and for answering it, commenters. I can find book reviews but it is nice to get feedback from folks who actually use them. Another book for my wish list!


  3. I have an old edition of the petersons field guides, but I always found them a bit troublesome to use. Its not the pictures and descriptions aren’t good, but that by trying to cover so much, the pictures are necessarily small (an issue with the blues and skippers where fine details differentiate the species) and you can spend a fair amount of time flipping between your specimen and several possible species to figure out what they are. The range information is also likely to be inaccurate, again because of the large range they cover, and if your thinking of arizona, you probably will need both the eastern and western butterfly books. That said, they are a decent resource if there is nothing better.

    In some of the states there are local entomology groups which may publish more local guides, where the range information is much better. I have copies of such books for Canada, parts of the northern west coast of the US and for the midwest (as well as the UK), and have found them more useful than continent wide guides. There is a book called butterflies of arizona, but I don’t know if its any good or not.

    If you aren’t keen on killing the butterflies, you might want to keep an eye out books that have live pictures and which in the descriptions stress wing markings and behavioral features that can let you identify a butterfly on the wing. Books like that are quite popular here in Europe, where many species are endangered and just about every interesting butterfly is protected in law, but they didn’t exist in the US when I left.

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