Britain's Insects - New Book

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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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The Wild Guides new 'Britain's Insects' was published yesterday and I received my pre-ordered copy.

I needed a book that covered many more of our insects than I have in my field guides and this looked like it would satisfy the requirement. OK, it only covers 1,653 species out of 25,000 in the UK (1,476 are photographed) but that is far more than any other book I have.

It starts with good sections on identification, classification and the orders of insects in Britain and Ireland. It also includes a short section on watching and photographing insects.

This is by far the best book on insects I have found (without going into the encyclopaedic volumes used by professionals - or individual sub-divisions like Lepidoptera). The photographs are clear - if a bit small - and the detailed information is exactly right. For example, in the shield bug page below, it shows the change in colouring between early season and late season; something I've not got in any other book.

It's no lightweight though - it has over 600 pages. I'd think twice before taking it out on a walk but I think it will be a great identification reference for my ongoing biodiversity survey.

Oh, and the Author is no relation by the way :)

Britains Insects 1.jpg

Britains Insects 2.jpg
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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I really like the page layout. That's exactly the kind of a book which needs to live in your vehicle. Of very little value in the house. The day will come when you recognize so many of the insects that you won't need (?) to take it along.

I have two very good regional plant books which live in the food box which is always used for day trips. We don't have any good regional insect books. Nobody seems to have the appetite to put one together. Extraordinary effort from your Mr. Brock.
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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Okay :) it's now in my Birthday book wishlist :cool:

@Broch Thank you for the heads up :)
 

Oliver G

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Sep 15, 2012
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Oooh, does it cover the Blandford Fly and what the best way is to rid the planet of those little blighters.

I may have to get this to add to my field guide collection, soon I won't have any spare pockets in my smock for all these.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Oooh, does it cover the Blandford Fly and what the best way is to rid the planet of those little blighters.

I may have to get this to add to my field guide collection, soon I won't have any spare pockets in my smock for all these.

You'll need big pockets; this book is 40mm thick and weighs 1.5kg! :)
 
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Robson Valley

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Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus & Species.

There are about 30 Orders of classified insects. You ought to know the basic anatomical features of the more common dozen Orders without opening an insect book. I see that there are some nicely organized charts on the internet which ought to make this learning goal quite painless. I taught Forest Entomology for some years. I always suggested that the students tie one particularly conspicuous species to the Order to make recall so much easier.

Did you know that there are more different species of Coleoptera (beetles) than the sum of all other animal life forms?
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Did you know that there are more different species of Coleoptera (beetles) than the sum of all other animal life forms?

Actually, I did :) - nearly 400,000 species - but it's such a fascinating and mind boggling fact that I think it's definitely worth stating now and then!

Pages 8 to 25 of the book is dedicated to explaining the classification of insects and it uses photographs of 'typical' examples of the orders - for an amateur like me it's a really nicely packaged resource.

insect classification.jpg
 
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Robson Valley

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That's great. Exactly the kind of thing which works so well in practice.
I'm convinced that some Orders will contain many "indicator species" which are very sensitive to climate chance over the next few decades. Population sizes will yield useful numerical data.

We have whole population genetics laboratory simulation student games to examine genetic drift such as the famous British Peppered Moth. (Biston betularia?) Did I spell that correctly? I can't remember.

Here in BC, we have an interesting challenge for the amateur ( since the pro's can't get the funding) to capture and identify insects above 8,000'. It's been estimated that one insect in twenty, maybe one in ten, is a new species, unknown to science.
Trap emergent adult aquatic insects in alpine and subalpine creeks. Some are intact examples never seen before.

I've seen several threads here in BCUK over the years regarding moth trapping and identification. More power to you.
 

Robson Valley

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Besides the outright educational and entertainment values, buying the book serves a different purpose.
It's a driver. It's evidence that there is a demand for such publications and as gifts, there's nothing more provocative.
Broch: please send me the ISBN. I should buy one as a matter of principle.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Besides the outright educational and entertainment values, buying the book serves a different purpose.
It's a driver. It's evidence that there is a demand for such publications and as gifts, there's nothing more provocative.
Broch: please send me the ISBN. I should buy one as a matter of principle.

Here you go :)

2021-06-28 13.16.35.jpg
 
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Robson Valley

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Thankyou. Release scheduled for mid-July here. Ordered one.
I'm fascinated by the insects with circumpolar distribution.
We would recognize some of each other's butterflies for certain.
I presume that there would be common species in many other Orders as well.
 

Broch

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I was wondering how many of our 25,000 species here in the UK would be over the pond. Mind, with that only being about 2% of the known world species there may well only be a small number that are exactly the same!
 
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Robson Valley

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Here in BCUK and also in ROF, there are photo-threads with lots of insect pictures.
Every last one of the butterfly and moth pictures look familiar to my local landscape. Of course, I'll expect some genetic drift in and between populations. All the cabbage whites, the Mourning Cloaks (Camberwell Beauty), all the same.
If we picked them out, if they reproduced successfully for a few generations, I'll guess that 20% of our insects are common.

We have several Saturnidae moths, Luna, Cecropia and Polyphemus which can be as large as your hand. Evening Hummingbird moths are common and attracted to Petunia flowers and others. Tame enough almost to perch on your fingers.

I'm really looking forward to that book.
Because of the great diversity of biogeoclimatic zones here in BC, any insect book would be a soul-destroying project. Order by order, sure. Butterflies of British Columbia is a massive tome.
 

Erbswurst

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Mar 5, 2018
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Do these 25000 insects have different names in the different European languages?
I usually don't call them, but would be interested nevertheless.
 

Robson Valley

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Common names? I would expect that many of them most certainly do.
How ever, each species has been assigned a binomial name (2 words) with either classical Latin or Greek roots. This binomial name never changes, all over the world. All species are named like this. Universal words.

The first word is the Genus which is always capitalized. The second word is the specific term and it is never capitalized. Capitalize that word to be clever and you are categorically incorrect, internationally.

Here's your homework:
In North America, the Mourning Cloak is a chocolate brown butterfly with pale cream margin wings. They over winter as adults. In England, this species is called the Camberwell Beauty. You could never guess that they were the same
from those names. Look it up.
What's the universally accepted Latin binomial name for this circumpolar butterfly?
 

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