If you are a regular reader on here then you know that I love field guides. There are so many good ones out there that you just don’t know which one(s) to get. I have reviewed some of the better ones but to be honest, as good as they all are, none of them are perfect. Each field guide brings something pertinent to the table but they also miss the mark in other areas. I actually wish that someone would take the best elements of all of these guides and make one perfect guide.
Some guides try to be over ambitious, covering either the whole United States or just the east or west coast. These are all fine and good but the problem is, the more ambitious they are, the more likely they are to keep out important information because they want to minimize the overall size of the guide. Field guides are just that, guides meant to be used in the field. If they weigh ten pounds it makes it difficult to bring the book with you.
With over 900 species of tarantula worldwide, most keepers are always on the look out for the new and exciting must-have species that just recently became available, after years of being absent from the hobby (or never available at all). Tarantulas that feature larger-than-usual sizes or stunningly beautiful colors are always in high demand and while this is fine and good, some staples of the hobby take a back seat. Other species, that should be popular, just never achieve that must-have status. The subject of this blog, in my opinion, is one such species.
As of this writing there are 954 known species of tarantulas in the world, with dozens upon dozens of described genus names. As research continues on these fascinating animals, new genus and species names are created and animals are being shifted into new nomenclature. You just never know when what you had yesterday as a Brachypelma smithi could now be Brachypelma harmori tomorrow. What one day was Avicularia versicolor is now Caribena versicolor. As new species are discovered and more research is done, I am sure these shifts will continue.
For anyone that raises butterflies and moths, having your caterpillars form pupae is a huge undertaking. You spend weeks feeding these hungry mouths and though you may be doing it in protected environments, the chance of failure is still there. Stink bugs, yellow jackets, skunks and raccoons are always hungry for your babies and at times, no matter how hard you try, they still seem to find what you are working so hard to protect. There is an excitement that is unequaled when your caterpillars finally form their chrysalis or cocoon. With all of these odds against you in captivity, what chance do they have in the wild?
When I was approached in early 2015 to be a part of this book, I quickly agreed. How exciting would it be to be a part of a book that had not been attempted yet about one of my favorite subjects, butterflies and moths. Yes, there have been other books on caterpillars (most notably “Caterpillars of Eastern North America” by David L. Wagner and “Caterpillars in the Field and Garden” by Thomas J. Allen) but none can boast a world-wide variety of 600 species shown full size! That is exactly what “The Book of Caterpillars: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World” has done!
When you have as many tarantulas as I do, you tend to go with what is easy in terms of enclosures. Uniformity works best, not only because it makes feeding easier but also because in many cases, you can maximize space used (and most tarantula enthusiasts will concur that you just cannot have enough space). There are downsides to this though, especially if you really want to showcase a prize specimen.
For the most part, I use Exo-Terra Breeding Boxes (see review HERE). Their rigid construction allows for stacking which maximizes much needed shelf space. The problem is that they don’t really allow for your collection to be displayed properly. For housing a large variety of tarantulas, they are perfect; but if you want visitors to check out your collection, viewing them is difficult.
Field guides are one of my favorite types of books, especially when it comes to insects. If you are a regular reader of my site you will know that I have actually reviewed quite a few here. The problem is there is a lot of rehash from guide to guide, oftentimes not offering any new info. If there’s nothing new to offer then why buy it?