Just five awesome books about bugs

Four legs good. Six legs even better.

bee on flower
Discover the beauty of light shining on a translucent wing.Michael Anfang via Unsplash

Insects are everywhere. They follow us to the picnic, hide between cracks in the floorboards, and bite us when we're asleep. They may soon become a bigger part of our diets that the occasional accidental swallow (cockroach milk, anyone?). Some are scary, and some so delicate and colorful they don't even look real. All are fascinating. Here are some great books to help you get to know insects in all their glory.

Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
Damselflies and antlions, it’s nice to meet ya.Amazon

This classicguide will help you get on a first-name basis with familiar bugs like wasps, moths, and crickets. But once you learn key identifying terms like “piercing-sucking mouthparts” and “chewing mouthparts,” you’ll discover all kinds of species you never noticed before. Basics about anatomy, reproduction, and insect development are covered alongside more than 2,000 photos.

The Book of Beetles: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred of Nature's Gems

The Book of Beetles: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred of Nature's Gems
Bet you didn’t know beetles could be furry.Amazon

There are more than 350,000 species of beetles in the world. That’s a different species for just about every person who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii! This beautiful and coffee-table friendly book describes biology, habitat, and the importance of 600 different beetles, and features a photo of each at scale next to one rendered in extraordinary close-up detail.

Innumerable Insects: The Story of the Most Diverse and Myriad Animals on Earth

Innumerable Insects: The Story of the Most Diverse and Myriad Animals on Earth
Natural history, gorgeously rendered.Amazon

If you enjoy learning about things in a larger context, this book gives an overview of entomology including insect society, language, evolution, and pollination. You’ll be introduced to key entomologists like Maria Sibylla Merian and Jan Swammerdam. But the centerpiece of this work is the curation of fantastic illustrations of insects sourced from the American Museum of Natural History’s rare book collection.

Microsculpture: Portraits of Insects

Microsculpture: Portraits of Insects
Art imitates life.Amazon

Designers, sculptors, and painters will find endless inspiration in these masterful and painstakingly-detailed portraits. Animators will dream new creatures and writers find new language to describe color after viewing the results of Levon Bliss’s layering technique to capture insect features using a microscope lens. The rest of us will feel awe at the magnificence possible on such a tiny canvas.

The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies

The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies
Neither fly nor butter.Amazon

Get to know the insect who is responsible for countless memes and metaphors about our journey to discover who we really are in the world. Check out photos of each butterfly’s life stages including caterpillar and chrysalis, and then delight in finding them in your own backyard or community garden.