Books for identification

This is a list of identification guides that I find useful. Clicking on the title takes you to the book’s page at the LibraryThing website. If you have any other suggestions, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Books are arranged in my standardised structure, then listed alpabetically by principal authors surname. Guides covering all of the species in a particular group are marked ***.

VERTEBRATES

Birds

Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterström & Peter Grant (2010) The Collins Bird Guide (second edition) ***

Reptiles and amphibians

Howard Inns (2011) Britain’s Reptiles and Amphibians ***

INSECTS

Peter Barnard (1999) Identifying British Insects and Arachnids: an annotated bibliography of key works (rather than being an identification guide in its own right, this is an index to published identification literature, helpful in identifying the best books or papers covering the group of insect species you are interested in)

Bees, wasps and ants

Michael Archer (2000) The British Potter and Mason Wasps: A Handbook (the identification key from this guide is available online here)

Bryan Pinchen (2004) A Pocket Guide to the Bumblebees of Britain and Ireland

The Naturalists’ Handbooks series includes titles on ants, bumblebees and solitary wasps.

Within the Royal Entomological Society’s handbooks series, volume 6 cover bees, wasps and ants. Each volume in the series is published in many parts: a full list of those published to date, can be seen at this Wikipedia article (note that many parts are old and out of print). Ants, social wasps and solitary wasps are fully covered, along with some less well-known families.

There is as yet no definitive modern identification work covering all the British bees, a major gap in the literature.

Beetles

Andrew Duff (2012-) Beetles of Britain and Ireland, Volume 1: Sphaeriusidae to Silphidae (the first volume in a new series, projected to cover all British and Irish species in four volumes)

Karl Harde (1998) A Field Guide in Colour to Beetles (contains a very good range of illustrations of European beetles, though unfortunately out of print at present)

Within the Royal Entomological Society’s handbooks series, volumes 4 and 5 cover beetles. Each volume in the series is published in many parts: a full list of those published to date, can be seen at this Wikipedia article (note that many parts are old and out of print). Ground beetles, dung beetles and weevils are all fully covered, along with many smaller families.

Ladybirds

Michael Majerus (2008) Naturalists’ Handbooks 10: Ladybirds ***

Bryan Pinchen (2005) A Pocket Guide to the Ladybirds of Britain and Ireland ***

Leaf beetles

Dave Hubble (2012) Keys to the adults of seed and leaf beetles of Britain and Ireland ***

Bugs

Martin Evans and Roger Edmondson (2005) A Photographic Guide to the Shieldbugs and Squashbugs of the British Isles

Bryan Pinchen (2009) A Pocket Guide to the Shieldbugs and Leatherbugs of Britain and Ireland

Butterlies and moths

Chris Manley (2008) British Moths and Butterflies (a very comprehensive photographic guide)

Macro-moths

Jon Clifton and Jim Wheeler (2012) Conifer moths of the British Isles: a field guide to coniferous-feeding Lepidoptera (covers both macro- and micro-moths that feed on conifers)

Adrian Riley and Gaston Prior (2003) British and Irish Pug Moths: A guide to their identification and biology

Bernard Skinner (2009) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles (third edition) ***

Martin Townsend, Jon Clifton and Martin Goodey (2010) British and Irish moths: an illustrated guide to selected difficult species

Paul Waring and Martin Townsend (2009) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (second edition) ***

Micro-moths

Jon Clifton and Jim Wheeler (2011) Bird-dropping tortrix moths of the British Isles

Jon Clifton and Jim Wheeler (2012) Conifer moths of the British Isles: a field guide to coniferous-feeding Lepidoptera (covers both macro- and micro-moths that feed on conifers)

Barry Goater (1986) British Pyralid Moths: A Guide to their Identification

Colin Hart (2011) British Plume Moths

Phil Sterling and Mark Parsons (2012) Field Guide to the Micro-moths of Great Britain and Ireland ***

Dragonflies

Steve Brooks (2004) Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland ***

Steve Dudley, Caroline Dudley and Andy MacKay (2007) Watching British Dragonflies (an identification guide and a where-to-watch guide in the one book) ***

Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash (2010) Britain’s Dragonflies: A Field Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of Britain and Ireland (second edition) ***

Flies

Dennis Unwin (1981) A Key to the Families of British Diptera (out of print, but available online in PDF format here)

Within the Royal Entomological Society’s handbooks series, volumes 9 and 10 cover flies. Each volume in the series is published in many parts: a full list of those published to date, can be seen at this Wikipedia article (note that many parts are old and out of print). Families for which parts have been published include the Conopidae, Dolichopodidae, Muscidae, Pipunculidae, Tachinidae and Tephritidae.

Hoverflies

Stuart Ball and Roger Morris (2013) Britain’s hoverflies: an introduction to the hoverflies of Britain

Alan Stubbs and Steven Falk (2002) British Hoverflies: an illustrated identification guide (second edition) ***

Soldierflies and allies

Alan Stubbs and Martin Drake (2001) British Soldierflies and their allies (currently out of print) ***

Grasshoppers, crickets and allies

Martin Evans and Roger Edmondson (2007) A Photographic Guide to the Grasshoppers & Crickets of Britain & Ireland ***

Judith Marshall and Chris Haes (1990) The Grasshoppers and Allied Insects of Great Britain and Ireland (currently out of print) ***

Bryan Pinchen (2006) A Pocket Guide to the Grasshoppers, crickets and allied insects of Britain and Ireland ***

Sawflies

Adam Wright (1990) British Sawflies (Hymenoptera: Symphyta): a key to adults of the genera occurring in Britain

Within the Royal Entomological Society’s handbooks series, sawflies are covered in Volume 6, Parts 2a, 2b and 2c (see this Wikipedia article for more details).

VASCULAR PLANTS

Tim Rich & Clive Jermy (1998) Plant Crib 1998 (a guide to difficult-to-identify groups of plant species)

Francis Rose and Clare O’Reilly (2006) The Wild Flower Key (second edition)

Peter Sell & Gina Murrell (1996-) Flora of Great Britain and Ireland (a five-volume work, of which volumes 3, 4 and 5 have been published so far) ***

Clive Stace (2010) New Flora of the British Isles (third edition) ***

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland publishes its identification handbooks series covering various difficult-to-identify groups of vascular plants.

Aquatic plants

Richard Lansdown (2009) A Field Guide to the Riverine Plants of Britain and Ireland (out of print) ***

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s handbooks series covers pondweeds (in volume 8)

Grasses, sedges, rushes and ferns

Francis Rose (1989) Colour Identification Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of the British Isles and Northwest Europe ***

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s handbooks series covers sedges (in volume 1) and grasses (in volume 13)

Orchids

Anne & Simon Harrap (2005) Orchids of Britain and Ireland ***

Trees

Owen Johnson and David More (2004) Collins Tree Guide ***

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s handbooks series covers willows and poplars (in volume 4) and whitebeams and allies (in volume 14)

BRYOPHYTES (mosses and liverworts)

Ian Atherton, Sam Bosanquet & Mark Lawley (2010) Mosses and liverworts of Britain and Ireland: a field guide

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