Odonata books

My personal thoughts on some dragonfly books.

This is a list of the books I currently have about Odonata. The first are the Danish book, followed by books on the European species, and some about Odonata in general. The last four books are about the species in North America, which I've purchased before and after my visit over there.

Please note that the list has not been updated the last couple of years, and I will soon update the reviews and add more books.

De Danske Guldsmede, Ole Fogh Nielsen, Apollo Books, Stenstrup 1998

This book is a must for all Danes interested in Odonata. It covers all species registred in Denmark up till '98, with descriptions of appearence, habitat, flying season etc. for all the species. Nearly all photos in the book are taken by the author, and are of excellent quality. The book has a short intoduction to the insect order Odonata, and a good identification key for all the species, including the larva and excuvia of those species. It should be noted that a couple of species is missing in the book, but only because they were discovered in Denmark after the book was released in '98. The laungage of the book is Danish.

The Dragonflies of Europe, R. R. Askew, Harley Books, Essex 2004

This revised version of the 15 year old, and extremely popular book, covers all 124 Odonata species in Europe. It is illustrated by the author himself, showing detailes of each species. The plates with drawings of the Odonata species is very detailed, and has been done based on specimens. It should be noted that the range maps are not exact, as they have not been update since the original version, but a section in the book handles the changes in the species ranges that has been seen since then.

Trollslaender i Europa, 2nd edition, Åke Sandhall, Interpublishing 2000.

This book in Swedish covers most European species, lacking the most southern. The book has some nice photos of Odonata and habitats, and has an identification key that is very easy to use. The northern species are well presented in this book, species which may lack in other books on European Odonata. There is not so much text in this book, is written in Swedish.

Dragonflies of Britain and Europe, Klaas-Douwe B. Dijkstra, British Wildlife Publishing 2006.

This all new book is surely the most complete guide to the Odonates of Europe, regarding the number of species presented. It includes all species in Europe, including Turkey and the northern coastal part of Africa, which to some extent share species with southern Europe.

A general introduction to the Odonate appearence and biology, is followed by a description of the Odonata fauna for each country, with examples of good regions and places to visit for the observer of dragonflies. This is followed by a key to the identification of the insects in families and genera.

Finally the main section with all the species dealt with one by one, is very good with few pictures and excellent drawings of the insects and details important to the identification. The illustrations are coupled with a short, but clear and descriptive text, covering identification, variation, behaviour, range, habitat and flight season.

Dragonflies, behaviour and ecology of Odonata, Phillip S. Corbet, Harley Books, Essex 1999

This book is incredible ! It gives the reader interested in the behaviour of the insects an unequaled amount of information. The book is 820 pages thick and has few pictures, instead it is full of tables and information, summing up the knowlegde that has been gathered by people from all over the world. This 1999 version is a rewritten and updated version of the book, A Biology of Dragonflies from 1962 (see below).

A Biology of Dragonflies, Phillip S. Corbet, 1962

I have now been able to buy this book, which I previous only had in PDF format. It is basically the predecessor of the one above. It is not as complete and lacks all the knowlegde the world has gathered since '62, but it is very nice to study indeed. Many new to Odonates will probably find this book easier to read, compared to the newer version.

The Biology of Dragonflies, R. J. Tillyard, 1917.

I have this book in PDF format, and it will probably be very hard to find a copy of it, considering its age. It can bo found on the web. When reading this book, it strikes me the large amount of knowlegde about Odonata, that was present at that time. It is incredible detailed on the structure of these insects, and the functions of all the body parts.

Dragonflies of the world, Jill Silsby, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. 2001

This book is probably the only one covering all the dragonflies and damselflies of the world. A general introduction is followed by a description of the different Odonatas of the world. It describes the three suborders, divided in eight superfamilies, 29 families and 58 subfamilies. The book has many photos and really give the reader an impression of how beautiful and diverse these insects are.

Libellen in Bayern, Klaus Kuhn und Klaus Burbach, Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 1998.

This book in german, has been achived by work of a lot of people. Nearly 30 people has contributed with text, and more than 100 with data about the distribution of the species in Bayern. A short section on the biologi of Odonata, is followed by a look at the geography of Bayern. The species are described each by the distribution in Bayern, and the biologi and habitate is explained. This book has a very good section on the different types of habitate for Odonata, and finally some selected places in the region are described in detail.

Die Libellen Baden-Württembergs, Band 1, Sternberg/Buchwald, EUgen Ulmer, Stuttgart, 1999.

This first of two books, both about the Odonates in the most southwestern region of Germany, has a general section on Odonata and habitates etc. followed by a detailed description of the Zygoptera (damselfly) found in the region. The book is a joint effort of several contributors to the text. All about this book is great, it is so detailed in many aspects. The pictures in the books are of highest quality and are numerous.

Naturally these books are written in German language.

Die Libellen Baden-Württembergs, Band 2, Sternberg/Buchwald, EUgen Ulmer, Stuttgart, 2000.

This second book about the Odonates from Baden-Württembergs, covers all the Anisoptera (dragonflies) from the region. SOme species not found in the region, is presented as well. Like the first book, this is really a well done book, filled with valuable information and splendid pictures. A great detail is, that the books have a description of what the scientific names of all the species actually means. The distribution data presented in the two books are detailed.

These two books are some of my best books about dragonflies.

Odonata, Die Libellen der Schweiz, Wildermuth/Gonseth/Maibach, Schweizerische Entomologische Gesellschaft, 2005.

This book in German language can also be found in a Frensh version. This book is not filled with photographs, but has detailed information on the distribution of Odonata in Schweiz, both historical and present. Drawings are made of each species. Due to the alps, the Odonata fauna is rather interesting in Schweiz.

Die Prachtlibellen Europas, Georg Rüppell, Westarp Wissenschaften, Hohenwarsleben, 2005.

This book in German language, deals with the biologi of Calopteryx-species in Europe. Four writers have contributed to the extensive material in the book. All aspects like eggs, larvae, and the imago are described in detail. The distribution of the species is shown in colour maps. Most of the book is text with drawings etc. but some colour photographs are present too.

Die Binsenjungfern and Winterlibellen Europas, Reinhard Jödicke, Westarp Wissenschaften, Magdeburg, 1997.

This book in German language, covers all aspects of the species in EUrope from the genus's Lestes and Sympecma, both placed together in the Lestidae family. Detailed drawings show the main features of larvae and imago, and copulation organs are shown detailed with electron microscope pictures.

Die Federlibellen Europas, Andreas Martens, Westarp Wissenschaften, Magdeburg, 1996.

Another book in the German series of Odonata in Europe. This one deals with the genus Platycnemis, the only from the Platycnemididae family occuring in Europe. The book starts with a description of the family and its species around the world, followed by a description of those in Europe. Finally the last section in the book has a detailed study of the species Platycnemis pennipes, especially concentrating on delivering information on the writers observation of reproductive behaviour.

Die Flussjungfern Europas, Suhling/Müller, Westarp Wissenschaften, Magdeburg, 1996.

This book covers the species from the Gomphidae family that lives in Europe. Like the three other books in the series, this is detailed information of highest quality. The fifth book in the series will be available at the end of 2006, Die Falkenlibellen Europas (Cordulidae).

Die Libellenlarven Deutschlands, Heidemann/Seidenbusch, Goecke & Evers, Keltern, 2002.

This book describes larvae and exuvia of the Odonates of Germany. The first section describes the biologi of the larvae, and how to collect exuvia. The second section is a key to the larvae (or exuvia) of the species, and a description of each species. Hopefully I will start using this book and the following, in a future study of exuvia and larvae. At the moment I can't recommend one over the other, although this book here is only for species in Germany, while the next is covering all of Europe.

Die Exuvien Europäischer Libellen, Gerken/Sternberg, Huxaria Druckerei, Höxter, Keltern, 2002.

The Exuvia of European Dragonflies

This bilangual book in German and English is a comprehensive key to the exuvia of European Odonates. A short introduction about collecting the exuvia, and where they are typically find for each species, is followed by the key. This is a large book in A4 paper format, with large drawings of exuvia details.

Dragonflies and Damselflies of California, Tim Manolis, University of California Press, 2003.

This small handbook covers all species found in California. It has a general section introducing the reader to the order Odonata, followed by description of each of the species. The middle of the book is filled with plates showing the appearence of the species, not through photographs, but through very beautiful colour drawings made by Tim. I had the pleasure of joining Tim and another californian for a day out observing dragonflies in the Sacremento area, and I was pleased by him signing my copy of the book. The drawings are like nothing I've ever seen before, very informative and artistic done.

Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States. John C. Abbott, 2005.

After visiting Texas for two weeks in May 2005, and doing a lot of photographing of the many species there, this book came out. This book covers so many dragonflies and damselflies that any European could only dream of. The book has pictures, descriptions, range maps etc. for 263 species ! Pictures are rather big considering the of species, and mostly show both males and females.

Dragonflies through Binoculars, Sidney W. Dunkle, Oxford University Press, 2000

This handbook covers all Anisoptera (dragonflies) species found in North America, and that is an incredible 307 species. It's a field guide with a short description of each species, linked to the plates in the back of the book. The plates has a photo of the male, in some cases also a female, and a distribution map.

Common Dragonflies of the Southwest, Kathy Biggs, Azalea Creek, 2004

This book covers the most common species of dragonflies and damselflies in the southwestern states of USA. It is small and handy to bring out in the field. It has good pictures and points out the key features to identify the species.