Best textbooks for beginner entomologist?

Hello everyone,

I’m a new-ish wildlife recorder who would like to begin specializing towards insects.

Before I purchase “Borror and DeLong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects”, I was wondering if anyone had other recommendations for similar textbooks to choose from.
I’m decently well versed in zoology already so I’m not scared of something more scientific.

Thank you!


I use
Mike Picker - Field Guide to the Insects of South Africa.


Welcome to the forum!


I do like Borror and DeLong. Even though it is designed for North America (where I live) and getting old, the Peterson Field Guide to Insects is actually surprisingly technical and detailed, and the families it covers should mostly cross over to Europe as well…

There are of course large series of monographs covering various families for Great Britain and Europe - it’s easy to accumulate lots of books when you get interested in bugs! :)


Are you looking for something targeted to a specific region or more of a broad overview that’s more theory and taxonomy based?

From your observations it looks like you’re based in the Czech Republic, so some European insect field guides would probably be a good addition to any more academic/theoretical approach to learning more on the subject.

If you’re looking for academic suggestions, including textbooks, this conversation on ResearchGate about entomology instruction books recommendations is a good place to start.


@earthknight @kschnei
Thank you so much for your suggestions, I will be sure to check them out! The reason I brought up Borror/Delong is because the overall structure and content of the book really appealed to me, so something like that + an EU-specific guide would be fab.

And yes…I have a big “problem” with zoology books already :grimacing:

Thanks Ally! :)

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I don’t see an insect field guide for your region specificaly. Most seem to be either a bit further west or south.

That said, there is the Collins Field Guide to the Insects of Britain and Northern Europe, which appears to be out of print, but it’s available in used book catalogs like Abebooks. Also the A Photographic Guide to Insects of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, which is in print.

NHBS and Lynx are two excellent sources of various ID books. For lynx especially, not all books are published in English as they’re a Spanish company.

Bueto books looks worth a poke around as well.


Welcome to the forum!
As has been said, Borror and deLong is certainly a good general introduction to insects. I’ve seen that it is possible to download a pdf of the book, but have no idea how useful that would be (or if it’s even legal!). It’s also a big investment. If you are new to insects as a group I suspect the best approach would be to get a good field guide and do some browsing. Get to know the lay of the land, so to speak. Insects are a huge, diverse group, and often terminology differs from order to order. Lepidopteran language is different from Diptera, both are different to Hymenoptera. And so on. I suspect that you will begin to focus on one or two orders, and that might be the time to start looking at more specific texts. There are also many resources online, but nothing beats a book!!
Edit: Some groups need microscopic examination, which is another consideration.


I’d suggest you to specialize in a smaller group than insects, because they are completely overwhelming because of their diversity. Of course you can do that later and get an overview first, to look whats most interesting to you.
Good introductions into Coleoptera and Diptera are “A Coleopterists Handbook” and “A Dipterists Handbook”. These Books are not for identification.
But Coleoptera and especially Diptera are also very big groups, so it’s recommended to specialize into one or a few families.

If you don’t want to collect specimen, and avoid the time-consuming process of mounting them, you could look for Orthoptera, Odonata or some Lepidoptera, they can be identified in the field.


I have a cool book translated from Czech, so you can look up for original, it’s “Poznávejme motýly” 1952 (or 1958) by, well, it doesn’t mentions his original name, but it’s something like Dr. Yaroslav Tycach. It has not illustrations but real photos from collection with mounted caterpillars too (the best part).
And most likely all other local books will be in Czech too.

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