The 6 Best Books About Insects

Written by Lev Baker
Updated: April 8, 2023
© Auribe/Shutterstock.com

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Key Points:

  • The #1 Overall Best book about insects is Ultimate Bugopedia by Darlyne A. Murawski and Nancy Honovich.
  • Insects are a vital part of life on earth. They are an important source of food for many animals, help to pollinate plants (including many of the foods humans rely on!), and assist in the decomposition of organic matter. Reading books about insects can give you a better understanding of their behavior and their place in the ecosystem.
  • Having children read books about insects is important as well. Reading about insects can encourage children to ask questions and seek out more information on their own. Books about insects can also help children develop empathy and respect for all living creatures, including those that might seem strange or scary at first glance.
  • When choosing the best books about insects, there are many factors to consider, such as the information in the book, the reading level and age of the reader, photographs, and the size of the book.

Did you know that insects are some of the most important creatures living on our planet today? In fact, renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson said:

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. But if insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

— Edward O. Wilson

Yes, you read that right! Insects play an extremely vital role on this earth, much more than humans ever could. Not only are they critical for pollinating plants, but they also play a key role in pest control for human agriculture. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Whether we like it or not, insects are the glue that holds together all aspects of the entire planet’s ecosystems.

Now that you know the importance of insects in the biosphere, you probably want to learn a bit more about them, right?

Well, we’re here to help. Since insects play such an important role in the natural world, learning about them can deepen your understanding and appreciation for these tiny creatures. This article will give you a breakdown of the best books out there to get on top of everything there is to know about insects. So without further ado, let’s get into it!

  1. Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever (National Geographic Kids)
  2. Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever (National Geographic Kids)
    • 272 pages
    • Customers recommend this book for readers ages 4 through 8
    • A National Geographic encyclopedia and reference on bugs
    Check Amazon
  3. Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects (Smithsonian Handbooks) (DK Smithsonian Handbook)
  4. Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects (Smithsonian Handbooks) (DK Smithsonian Handbook)
    • Written by famous insect expert George C. McGavin and published by the Smithsonian
    • 500 real-life photographs of insect specimens
    • 4.8-star rating from about 500 reviews on Amazon
    Check Amazon
  5. The Weird and Wonderful World of Bugs: A Book About Beetles, Butterflies, and Other Fascinating Insects
  6. The Weird and Wonderful World of Bugs: A Book About Beetles, Butterflies, and Other Fascinating Insects
    • Solid choice for first and second-graders curious about bugs
    • Great bedtime story 
    • Five-star average on Amazon from over 600 reviews
    Check Amazon
  7. National Geographic Pocket Guide to Insects of North America
  8. National Geographic Pocket Guide to Insects of North America
    • 184 pages
    • A pocket guide on insects published by National Geographic
    • Written by Arthur V. Evans, who has published over 30 scientific papers and 100 articles and books on insects
    Check Amazon
  9. Bugs A to Z
  10. Bugs A to Z
    • Contains a plethora of facts and figures about bugs 
    • Full of colorful illustrations
    • Short read, making it ideal for young children
    Check Amazon
  11. 1,000 Facts About Insects
  12. 1,000 Facts About Insects
    • Published by National Geographic
    • Short yet detailed book; medium-length read
    • Great for kids and adults alike
    Check Amazon

Top Picks: The Best Books About Insects Today

#1 Overall Best: Ultimate Bugopedia by Darlyne A. Murawski (Author) and Nancy Honovich (Author)

Now comes a National Geographic classic: Ultimate Bugopedia. Would you believe it if I told you that this book has 3000+ Amazon reviews and still maintains 4.9 out of 5 stars? With reviews like this, it goes without saying that this is an excellent book about bugs. A visually appealing yet detailed guide, Ultimate Bugopedia is one of the first books people wish to get their hands on if they are looking for more information on insects.

The book’s pages are colorful and loaded with tons of information about insect lifecycles, breeding, habitats, and fun facts, alongside several eye-catching pictures. So, not only is it detailed, but it also has a very accessible structure that prevents readers from getting overwhelmed by the amount of information in the book.

In addition, the book is also divided into sections, each of which addresses a particular type of insect. So, if you are looking for a specific kind of insect, you won’t have to flip through the entire book to find the insect you want to learn about; instead, just look at the table of contents.

Ultimate Bugopedia is also an excellent choice for adults and kids alike. The great thing about this book is that it has fun facts and exciting photos that will engage little ones, but it is also packed with detailed information for adults as well. So, in summary, this book is the complete package if you want a kid-friendly, comprehensive guide to bugs and insects.

However, a few customers said that while the pictures and details in the book are great, the text was not as engaging for their younger children (5 years old and younger).

Pros and Cons of Ultimate Bugopedia by Darlyne A. Murawski (Author) and Nancy Honovich (Author)

ProsCons
This book has 3000+ Amazon reviews and still maintains a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars.The text may not be as engaging for children 5 years old and younger.
It is detailed and has tons of colorful, eye-catching pictures.
The book provides all kinds of information about insects, like their lifecycles, breeding, habitats, and other fun facts.
It also has a very accessible structure that prevents readers from getting overwhelmed by the amount of information in the book.
The book is divided into sections for different types of insects.
Children and adults can enjoy reading this book together.
Best Overall
Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever (National Geographic Kids)
  • 272 pages
  • Customers recommend this book for readers ages 4 through 8
  • A National Geographic encyclopedia and reference on bugs
Check Amazon

2. Best for In-Depth Research: Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects by George C. McGavin

Written by famous insect expert George C. McGavin, the Smithsonian Handbook: Insects is your best friend if you wish to really dive deep into the world of insects. This book serves as a detailed log of 29 different insect orders and could serve as an excellent research tool for studying insects in the wild.

The book is stacked with 500 real-life photographs of insect specimens that are on display in London’s Natural History Museum. Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects narrows down insect information in an accessible way. The book features 100 unique and interesting insect species and has enlarged, detailed photos of each one of them. These images give you an insight into the insect’s lifestyle, where they’re found, their possible habitats, and other characteristics.

The basic structure followed throughout the book is a picture of an insect followed by key features and then a paragraph with more detailed information about each insect species. Thus, you could skim through or go into the nitty gritty, making this book great for insect enthusiasts and casual learners alike!

However, a few customers reported that due to the nature of the book, Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects is more of a generalized overview than a comprehensive catalog. In addition, the insects included in the book are primarily from North America.

Pros and Cons of Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects by George C. McGavin

ProsCons
This book provides details for 29 scientific orders of insects.This book does not cover all the insects in the world and mostly deals with those in North America.
It includes 100 insect species.Some customers said that this book is more of a generalized overview than a comprehensive catalog.
There are enlarged, details photos of each type of insect.
The book gives you information about the insects’ habitats, lifestyles, and other characteristics.
The format of the book makes it easy to skim or go more in-depth with each insect.
Best for In-Depth Research
Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects (Smithsonian Handbooks) (DK Smithsonian Handbook)
  • Written by famous insect expert George C. McGavin and published by the Smithsonian
  • 500 real-life photographs of insect specimens
  • 4.8-star rating from about 500 reviews on Amazon
Check Amazon

3. Best Children’s Book: The Weird and Wonderful World of Bugs by Rea Manderino

The Weird and Wonderful World of Bugs was published in 2020 and is meant to educate curious first and second-graders on insects in a fun and exciting way. Did you know that a third of the world’s insects are beetles? Or that ants are considered the  “farmers” of insects and can carry up to 20 times their body weight? Well, this book is your chance to find out all this and more through engaging pictures! So, if your kid has been bombarding you with questions about the creepy crawly they saw in the backyard, buy this book for them!

This book is a great bedtime story or reading practice material for your young school-age kids (it is aimed at children 5 to 7 years of age). Each bug in the book gets a description, fact box, and lovely photos for identification. The book has lots of information and colorful pictures to keep children engaged, with many super close-up shots that provide lots of detail. However, if your children are scared of bugs, this may be a bit much for them.

With only 50 pages, The Weird and Wonderful World of Bugs will probably revamp the way you look at your own backyard while quenching your little one’s thirst for knowledge about insects.

Pros and Cons of The Weird and Wonderful World of Bugs by Rea Manderino

ProsCons
This book was published recently in 2020.If your child is afraid of bugs, the close-up shots may potentially be scary.
It is aimed at first and second-grade children (ages 5 to 7 years old).
Each bug in the book gets a description, fact box, and lovely photos for identification.
The book has lots of detailed information and really nice, colorful pictures to keep children engaged.
There are also lots of close-up photos that provide more detail.
The book is just 50 pages long.
Best Children’s Book
The Weird and Wonderful World of Bugs: A Book About Beetles, Butterflies, and Other Fascinating Insects
  • Solid choice for first and second-graders curious about bugs
  • Great bedtime story 
  • Five-star average on Amazon from over 600 reviews
Check Amazon

4. Best Field Guide: National Geographic Pocket Guide to Insects of North America by Arthur V. Evans

If you’re looking for a pocket-sized encyclopedia you can carry around and use to identify the insects you find, then National Geographic Pocket Guide to Insects of North America is the perfect book for you. The author, Arthur V. Evans, is an expert entomologist (meaning a zoologist specializing in insects) who focuses on beetle taxonomy. From ants to beetles to wasps and butterflies, this little book has it all.

This book has great descriptions, awesome pictures, and important facts that are easy to find. It also has new art and graphics to help you figure out different types of insects. And its small size means you can also take it with you as you travel!

The guide was compiled based on information gathered from North America, hence the name. So you could call it an encyclopedia of sorts focused entirely on insects. This short field guide is packed with information to help you spot and identify insect species across North America.

Pros and Cons of National Geographic Pocket Guide to Insects of North America by Arthur V. Evans

ProsCons
This field guide is small so you can easily take it with you on your travels and explorations.This book only focuses on insects in North America.
The information is compiled and written by Arthur V. Evans, an expert entomologist.
It has great descriptions and wonderful photographs.
There are also drawings and graphics to help you identify insects that you come across.
This book is an encyclopedia of sorts for insects in North America.
Best Field Guide
National Geographic Pocket Guide to Insects of North America
  • 184 pages
  • A pocket guide on insects published by National Geographic
  • Written by Arthur V. Evans, who has published over 30 scientific papers and 100 articles and books on insects
Check Amazon

5. Best Picture Book: Bugs A to Z by Caroline Lawton

Another mini-read for younglings, Bugs A to Z contains a plethora of facts and figures about bugs and is full of colorful illustrations that will appeal to your little one. So, given that your child isn’t scared of bugs, this would be a good way for them to learn more about insects. And even if they do have a bit of a bug phobia, this book will do a stellar job of turning that fear into fascination.

Bugs A to Z is only 32 pages long, making a great short read. It is definitely a must-read for little ones to learn about insects! This book is aimed at children 2 to 5 years old. If you are looking for a more in-depth book with facts and taxonomy information, however, you’ll need to look elsewhere, as this is a simple picture book with basic facts for children. Bugs A to Z is really an adorable book and is full of bright colors and cool bugs that are interesting to learn about. It’s just the right size for kids that are a bit younger, and even though it’s paperback, the book is pretty strong.

Pros and Cons of Bugs A to Z by Caroline Lawton

ProsCons
This is an excellent book for younger children.This book is for younger children and does not go into great depth with the information included in it.
It is aimed at children 2 to 5 years old.
The book is only 32 pages long, making it a great short read.
It is a really cute book filled with bright colors and interesting bugs.
The book itself is just the right size for kids that are a bit younger.
Even though it’s paperback, the book is pretty strong.
Best Picture Book
Bugs A to Z
  • Contains a plethora of facts and figures about bugs 
  • Full of colorful illustrations
  • Short read, making it ideal for young children
Check Amazon

6. Best Book for Kids and Adults: 1,000 Facts About Insects by Nancy Honovich

If you are looking for ways to impress your friends and family with your insect knowledge, 1,000 Facts About Insects might be the book for you. A 96-page read, this book is also a compilation by National Geographic and serves as a short yet detailed book to spark interest in insects and other bugs.

1,000 Facts About Insects is a very informative book with engaging pictures while also equipping you with valuable information on how insects are vital to the planet. Once you’ve read it once, you will probably give it a second read because you will surely have missed some fun facts. This book will make you think twice before ever killing an insect again!

It is aimed at children 8 to 12 years old but can be entertaining for all ages. The book is filled with beautiful photographs and intriguing tidbits about insects that may surprise even the most informed reader! It also includes a glossary that is perfect for young minds and a complete list of insects for quick and easy reference. This book is suited for anyone looking for a concise, intriguing read on animals.

Pros and Cons of 1,000 Facts About Insects by Nancy Honovich

ProsCons
This book is 96 pages.
It is produced by National Geographic.
The book is short but detailed and informative.
It is filled with beautiful and engaging photographs.
The book is aimed at children 8 to 12 years old but can be entertaining for all ages.
It also includes a glossary that is perfect for young minds and a complete list of insects for quick and easy reference.
Best Book for Kids and Adults
1,000 Facts About Insects
  • Published by National Geographic
  • Short yet detailed book; medium-length read
  • Great for kids and adults alike
Check Amazon

Criteria: What to Look for in Books About Insects

So, how do you go about choosing a good book about insects? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Information
  • Reading level and age
  • Photographs
  • Size

Information

A book about insects is a valuable source of information that can help us understand and appreciate the natural world around us. Whether choosing a book for a younger child or an older adult, you’ll want to make sure the information is accurate. For example, if you are looking for a research-based book packed with expert information, you should steer away from children’s picture books and ensure that the book’s author is an entomologist.

Reading Level and Age

Think about who you are getting the book for. Is it an in-depth research book for an adult? A field guide for an upcoming hiking trip? Or something for a younger child? It’s important to decide what you are looking for. For example, do you want a book with interesting photographs of real-world insects with concise facts or an in-depth research field guide with complex taxonomy and scientific information?

Adult-level books will be far too advanced for young children, while picture books likely won’t give you the in-depth information you are seeking as an adult. When choosing a book for a young child who shows an interest in insects, look for a book with engaging photography or illustrations. In addition, pay attention to the page count. Some research guides can be hundreds of pages long, while smaller picture books can be as little as 30 pages.

Images

Quality pictures are essential in any book about bugs! The pictures are the primary way the reader can see various bugs and their features. Bugs are often small and complex, and can be challenging to identify accurately without a clear and detailed image. In addition, high-quality pictures also help to capture the attention of the reader, drawing them into the book and increasing their interest and engagement with the content. Clear, vibrant, and well-captured images can help to enhance the reader’s understanding of the bug’s unique features.

Size

Large research books and compact field guides are both valuable resources for learning about insects. However, you’ll need to think about how you plan to use your insect book. Is it a book that you want to read from the comfort of your own home? If so, a research book can be a great option. These books are typically larger and more in-depth. While larger books often mean more information, they are also bigger and heavier and much more difficult to transport.

Field guides, in contrast, are much smaller in size so that you can carry them with you as you travel. Field guides are also more focused on the identification and typically include detailed descriptions of common species, along with photographs or illustrations that highlight key identifying features.

About the Author

I have been a freelance writer for the past 2 years. I have a huge love of animals and I love building my knowledge of animals through research. I love sea creatures in particular, my favorite being the octopus because of their intelligence, and I mean, come on, what's not to love! I have a rescue boxer named Dante who is the friendliest pup a man could ask for.

The 6 Best Books About Insects FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the benefits of reading books about insects?

Reading books about insects can help readers gain a better understanding of these fascinating creatures, their role in the ecosystem, and the various ways in which they interact with humans. Additionally, books about insects can serve as a source of inspiration for scientists, nature lovers, and creative writers.

Are books about insects good for children?

Yes! In fact, many books about insects are written specifically for children and can be a great way for young readers to learn about the natural world. However, parents should be aware that some books may contain graphic or disturbing images, descriptions of insect behavior that could be frightening to some children, or technical language that may be difficult for younger readers to understand.

 

How do I choose the best book about insects?

When selecting a book about insects, it’s important to consider your areas of interest and your prior knowledge about the subject. Additionally, you should consider the intended audience of the book, the writing style and level of technical detail, and any reviews or recommendations from other readers or experts in the field.

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