Animal, Reptile, Bird and Insect – Books for Identification

I love getting emailed photos of plants and creatures that need identifying.

Although I may not be able to ID them at first glance, I can usually find something interesting in one of my reference books.

One of my favorite identification resources is the series of “Golden Guides”, which have now been updated to the “Golden Field Guides“. I still have the one I used for an insect collection in high school. Whether searching for butterflies, reptiles or hallucinogenic plants (really!), a Golden Guide starts you in the right direction.

If you thrill to the hunt of identifying plants, snakes or insects, these books may help:

(The links are to Amazon but you can find them at other booksellers)


Trees of North America (Golden Field Guides)

On a recent plant rescue for the Georgia Native Plant Society, Shannon Pable leafed through her well-thumbed copy of the Peterson Field Guide to Ferns. She recommends the Tree Identification Book and its companion, The Shrub Identification Book, written by George Symonds as particularly good for beginners.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms

I also recommend: Trees of Georgia and Adjacent States which has pictures of leaves, stems, bark, flowers, seeds, etc.

Weeds of Southern Turfgrasses


I find the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders to be invaluable when I need to identify an insect. It begins with the general body shape of the insect in question and leads one through ever-narrower refinements until you find what you’re looking for.

Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs 

Insects (Golden Guide)

Butterflies and Moths (Golden Guide)

Caterpillars of Eastern North America


Reptiles and Amphibians (Golden Guide)

Birds (Golden Guide)

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians

Snakes Of The Southeast 

Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia

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