University of Kentucky Department of Entomology - Youth Resources
Kentucky Bug Connection Mascot
University of Kentucky Entomology/Youth Entomology/Kentucky Bug Connection

  Bug Connection HOME

  Kentucky Critter Files

  Edible Insects

  Entomology Books

  Pet Bugs

  Teaching Resources

  Upcoming Events

  On-Line Survey

University of Kentucky Department of Entomology - KENTUCKY BUG CONNECTION
Youth Entomology Resources | MIDDLE - HIGH SCHOOL


Recommended books about insects and their relatives for use in the classroom and by students in intermediate grades (4-5), middle school, and high school.


Field guides are portable and essential for identification.  Many of the guides listed below also contain basic biological information about many types of insects and their relatives. Be warned that, because there are thousands of insect species, no single guide will contain pictures of every insect and there are some insects that you may not be able to find in any guide.  These guides contain pictures of the most commonly encountered insects, however.  They are all currently in print, and can be found in local bookstores and on-line.

Peterson Field Guide: Insects (by Borror and White).  Every entomologist in North America owns at least one copy of this essential guide.  It does not contain pictures of many individual insect species, but it has the keys and distinguishing characters that are needed to identify insects to the correct order and family.   Simon & Schuster's Guide To Insects (by Arnett and Jacques).  This popular guide has pictures of many common insect species, plus basic biological information.  Many of these insects live in Kentucky, but this guide also contains many pictures of insects that live only in the western United States.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders (by Milne and Milne).  This guide is similar to the Simon & Schuster guide except that it also covers many common spider species.  This guide contains detailed biological information about each insect and spider.

  Butterflies and Moths: A Golden Guide (by Mitchell and Zim).  Butterflies and Moths is an inexpensive (less than $8) guide to most of the butterflies and moths found in Kentucky.  It contains no photographs, but the drawings are detailed and just as useful for identification as photos, if not more so.  The book also contains drawings of caterpillars and pupae for many species.
Spiders and Their Kin : A Golden Guide (by Levi, Levi, and Zim).  There are very few books on spiders, and this is one of the best despite being an inexpensive (less than $8) kid's book.  In addition to detailed drawings of most common types of spiders, this guide also covers many of the other non-insect arthropods found in the United States, including centipedes, millipedes, daddy-long-legs, mites, sowbugs, and a few other creatures.   A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates (by Voshell).  For aquatic studies, this is one of the best guides available, with pictures of most of the invertebrates (including insects, crayfish, mussels, and worms) found in freshwater ponds, lakes, and streams.
Peterson Field Guide: Eastern Butterflies (by White).  This is a highly detailed guide to the many butterfly species that live in the eastern United States.   Peterson Field Guide: Beetles (by White).  There are more beetles on earth than any other kind of animal and this guide helps you sort them out.  Although this guide is overkill for most situations, it may be of interest if you are presenting a unit on beetles (a worthy subject!).


The books listed below contain stories, essays, anecdotes, and other information about insects that may be useful for school projects or book reports.  These books are also well-written and entertaining.


Spineless Wonders (by Conniff) - Richard Conniff presents a dozen true, magazine-style stories about insects and other invertebrates like spiders, mollusks, and worms.  The author takes you around the world, with a visit to the Pacific ocean on a hunt for the elusive giant squid, and a memorable trip to New England with its "slime eels."  Lots of fun!

To Know a Fly (by Dethier) - This classic entomology book was written in 1962 and details the author's experiences with an experiment involving a fly.  This is a great book for anyone with an interest in science or entomology, and is very entertaining.

The Naturalist (by Wilson) - E.O. Wilson is an entomologist and one of the most important biologists of the 20th century.  His work on ants was key to the understanding of sociobiology.  This book details Wilson's childhood, showing how the author became interested in science and biology.

My Family and Other Animals (by Durrell). Gerald Durrell spent his boyhood in paradise, and this non-fiction memoir tells his story.  In the early part of the 20th century, Durrell's family moved from cold, wet England to the warm, peaceful Greek island of Korfu.  With no school on the island to attend (!), Gerald spent his days learning about the animals that lived on the island, including many fascinating insects, reptiles, and birds.  In addition to his detailed observations about the biology of Korfu, Durrell also sprinkles his story with happenings involving his eccentric family and their island neighbors.

Buzzwords (by Berenbaum) - Dr. May Berenbaum from the University of Illinois regularly contributes a light-hearted column to American Entomologist magazine, a publication received by all members of the Entomological Society of America.  Buzzwords is a collection of several of these essays, and gives readers a chance to see the world from an entomological perspective.  These essays are well-written and easy to read, with humor that should appeal to most middle and high-schoolers.  Buzzwords is just one of many entomology books by Berenbaum.  Others include Ninety-Nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers and the highly recommended Bugs in the System, Insects and Their Impact on Human Affairs.


Kentucky Bug ConnectionYouth Entomology Resources | PRESCHOOL - ELEMENTARY
For preschool and elementary educational materials, please visit our adjacent site, KATERPILLARS.

Photos courtesy B. Newton and R. Bessin, University of Kentucky Department of Entomology.

Original document: 19 April 2004
Last updated: 19 April 2004

This page is maintained by Blake Newton, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky.
Please send questions or suggestions to: