Useful Books for Entomology Graduate Students

I successfully defended my PhD a few short weeks ago, and have started wrapping up loose ends. One biggie on my to-do list is to return all of the books I’ve accumulated over the last five years of research. Currently, I have over 60 library books! Not to mention all the other books I borrowed from the Frost Museum. And some others I rescued from a lab clean-out…

Long story short, there are a lot of books.

While sorting through the piles and trying to figure out which books came from where, I started reflecting on which books were the most useful to me during my PhD, and which ones might be useful for other graduate students tackling their own degrees in entomology.

How much reading does a PhD student do? A lot. Photo by Carolyn Trietsch (CC BY 2.0). Click for source.

In case you’d like to take a peek at my shelf, here are the books I’ve used during my PhD, organized by category. I put stars next to the books that helped the most and left the greatest impression on me; I definitely recommend checking those out.

General Entomology

  • Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity, by Stephen A. Marshall*
  • The Insects: An Outline of Entomology, by Penny J. Gullan and Peter S. Cranston*
  • Borror and Delong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects, 7th edition
  • Evolution of the Insects, by David Grimaldi and Michael S. Engel
  • A Textbook of Entomology, by Herbert H. Ross
  • The Science of Entomology, by Romoser Stoffolano, 4th edition
  • Introduction to Insect Biology and Diversity, by Howell V. Daly, John T. Doyen and Alexander H. Purcell III, 2nd edition
  • National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America, by Arthur V. Evans*
  • Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America (Kaufman Field Guides), 1st Edition
  • The Torre-Bueno Glossary of Entomology, revised by Stephen W. Nichols
  • Arthropod Collection and Identification: Laboratory and Field Techniques, by Timothy J. Gibb and Christian Oseto*

Taxonomy and Systematics

  • Describing Species, by Judith E. Winston*
  • Defining Species: A Sourcebook from Antiquity to Today, by John S. Wilkins
  • Species: A History of the Idea, by John S. Wilkins
  • Principles and Techniques of Contemporary Taxonomy, by Donald L. J. Quicke
  • The Insect and Spider Collections of the World, by Ross H. Arnett, Jr., G. Allan Samuelson, and Gordon M. Nishida


  • Phylogenetic Systematics, by Willi Hennig
  • Phylogenetic Trees Made Easy: A How-to Manual, by Barry G. Hall, 4th Edition
  • Tree Thinking: An Introduction to Phylogenetic Biology, by David A. Baum and Stacey D. Smith

Morphology and Physiology

  • Principles of Insect Morphology, by Robert Snodgrass*
  • Biology of the Arthropod Cuticle, by Anthony C. Neville
  • Microscopic Anatomy of Invertebrates, edited by Frederick W. Harrison and Arthur G. Humes
  • The Physiology of Insect Senses, by Vincent G. Dethier


  • Hymenoptera of the World: An Identification Guide to Families (Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research, Ottawa, Canada)*
  • Hymenoptera and Biodiversity, edited by John LaSalle and Ian D. Gauld
  • Parasitic Wasps, by Donald L. J. Quicke*


Other Great Reads

  • Letters to a Young Scientist, by E. O. Wilson*
  • Field Notes for Science and Nature, edited by Michael R. Canfield*
  • Spineless Wonders: Strange Tales from the Invertebrate World, by Richard Conniff*
  • The Sting of the Wild, by Justin O. Schmidt
  • Dry Storeroom No. 1, by Richard Fortey
  • For Love of Insects, by Thomas Eisner
  • Insects: Their Ways and Means of Living, by Robert Snodgrass
  • Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures, by Carl Zimmer
  • A Reason for Hope, by Jane Goodall

The one book that has impacted my entomological career the most is Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity, by Stephen A. Marshall*. I discovered this book early into my undergraduate research, and have many fond memories of pouring over the incredible photographs and working through the key to identify the insects I caught in the Long Island South Shore Estuary. This is the book that introduced me to the incredible biodiversity of insects and sparked my passion for taxonomic work.

What books have had the most impact on your graduate career? Are there any other important books not listed above that entomology graduate students should be aware of?

Leave your comments below!

This entry was posted in news. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *