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Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West (Princeton Field Guides)

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West is the first fully illustrated field guide to all 348 species of dragonflies and damselflies in western North America. Dragonflies and damselflies are large, stunningly beautiful insects, as readily observable as birds and butterflies. This unique guide makes identifying them easy–its compact size and user-friendly design make it the only guide you need in the field. Every species is generously illustrated with full-color photographs and a distribution map, and structural features are illustrated where they aid in-hand identification. Detailed species accounts include information on size, distribution, flight season, similar species, habitat, and natural history. Dennis Paulson’s introduction provides an essential primer on the biology, natural history, and conservation of these important and fascinating insects, along with helpful tips on how to observe and photograph them.

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West is the field guide naturalists, conservationists, and dragonfly enthusiasts have been waiting for.

  • Covers all 348 western species in detail
  • Features a wealth of color photographs
  • Provides a color distribution map for every species
  • Includes helpful identification tips
  • Serves as an essential introduction to dragonflies and their natural history

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3 Comments

  1. Soleglad says:

    A must book for any dragonfly enthusiast Basics: 2009, 535 pages, softcover, 850+ color photos of all 348 species in western US and Canada, range mapsThis is an exceptional book for any dragonfly enthusiast with a focus on identification. This is the most complete and best quality of any related book available.As noted in the title, the “West” refers to all species found in (a) Alaska, (b) Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Nunavut and all provinces west, and (c) N/S Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and all other states west. This region encompasses 348 species, all of which are shown in this book.All photographs are in color and of very good quality and size. All but 4 or 5 of the species are shown with at least 2 photos. Many species have 3 or 4 photographs. The photos show differences between male and female, adult and immature, and variations due to pruinose and heteromorphs. These photographs will be very helpful with the identification of most odonata you encounter – except for those frustratingly similar species. This is where the detailed text will be very informative and useful.The text, ranging from ½ to a full page for each species, consists of 6 distinct sections. The bulk of the material is found in Description, Identification, and Natural History. A single, yet potent, sentence is given to each of the other three sections of Habitat, Flight Season, and Distribution.The identification section does a good job of comparing similar species, giving pointers of how to differentiate between the finer points. The description of each can often be very detailed, which might be a bit too detailed for the novice or a person with a passing interest to know what to call that dragonfly flitting around the garden. To truly identify down to the species level, the book often describes the individual with terms of lateral thoracic stripes, postocular spots, abdomen black above S2-7, and other necessary “scientific” descriptors.Expanding on this detail are wonderful drawings of the abdominal tips and appendages, which are sometimes the only means for identification.The book has other brief sections on research, collecting, naming, anatomical labels (to help with terms in the identification section), and natural history.Lastly, a distribution map is supplied for each individual. Where relevant, the maps zoom in to the restricted ranges for many of the species. The boundaries for the states and provinces are shown, which help with better detail.This is, by far, the best odonate book available for the US. I certainly hope an eastern companion will follow in the near future.I’ve listed several related books below…1) by Biggs2) by Abbott3) by Abbott4) by Manolis5) by Behrstock6) by Hudson7) by Dunkle8) by Beaton(written by Soleglad at Avian Review or Avian Books, May 2009)

  2. Jerry K. Hatfield "Starshooter" says:

    Monumental Release! This new field guide of dragonflies and damselflies of the Western U.S. and Canada, it undoubtedly one of the best of its kind in a fairly compact volume. Photos are large, sharp and clear with many represented that show diagnostic features so valuable for positive identification. This volume is destined to become a classic and “must have” for all odonata enthusiasts from the amateur to the professional. However, distribution maps are not current with some area records that have been common knowledge since late 2007. Still, This doesn’t detract noticeably from the wealth of information and user-friendly format that comes wonderfully packaged in this indispensable tool! For these many superb reasons, I give it a solid 5 stars! Don’t delay, order yours today! You won’t regret this purchase and especially at this introductory price of just $19.77!!!!

  3. Steven Mlodinow says:

    Visually Stunning, Intellectually fascinating Paulson’s guide to dragonflies and damselflies (collectively known as odonates) of western North America is stunning to behold; one could spend a lot of time happily drifting through the beautiful photographs. Additionally, the text is incredibly informative. However, for a summary of this book’s contents, I can not do better than the review by “Soleglad”– I hope I got the reviewer’s tag right — of this book.However, I”d like to emphasize that this book is not just for the “serious” amateur or professional. I am not a serious dragonfly person. I enjoy looking at them, love photographing them when the opportunity presents itself, but I don’t spend much time identifying them “in the field,” and I do not go to specific places to seek them out.Nonetheless, I found this book fascinating. The introduction includes a myriad of interesting facts about these insects, and this helps you appreciate these beautiful animals all the more. The “field guide” portion of the book contains a large number of mostly superb photographs. The text in this portion of the book can be, initially, a bit hard to understand for us “lay-people,” but if you wish to identify a dragonfly or damselfly, some technical description is necessary (and there is an excellent glossary with drawings to explain terms).My Point: This is NOT a guide solely for “experts,” but for anyone who wants to identify dragonflies/damselflies, in their yard or on vacation (in western North America). It is also visually pleasing and contains far more general natural history background than most field guides. There is no guide currently out that is anywhere close in quality.My sole “negative” point is that it is nearly impossible for a photographic guide to put as many species per page as guide using drawings. This does sometimes make finding a collection of similar species (between which you are trying to make an identification) more difficult. But this guide is as good as a photo guide is going to get on this front as well.Steven Mlodinow

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