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This field guide describes insects that occur in the Pacific Northwest, from southwestern British Columbia to northern California. Most of the species included are native to the Pacific Northwest region; the few that are not native are indicated as introduced in their accounts. Since insects do not recognize state or national boundaries, most of the insects in this book have ranges outside the Pacific Northwest.
There are at least 28,000 (and still counting) species of insects in the Pacific Northwest. We have included in this introductory guide 452 species in 10 orders (there are 30 orders worldwide, but not all occur in the region). And although this is basically a book about insects, we have also included 19 noninsect terrestrial invertebrate species for a sampling of interesting small creatures other than insects that the reader might likely encounter. The criteria Pete used to select the insects were that they had to be (1) common (a species likely to he seen by many people), (2) large enough to photograph well, and/or (3) distinct enough that they can be identified by a photograph. He also took into consideration the kinds of insects in which the public seems to be most interested. In his 33 years with county agricultural commissioner's offices, the insects most frequently brought into the office for identification have been almost exclusively common, large, distinctive beetles, butterflies, and moths. As a consequence, the number of species in this field guide is weighted in favor of a few orders, particularly Coleoptera (beetles) and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).
One criterion he did not consider as part of the basis for inclusion in this book was the economic or social value of an insect. Much literature in the past has described insects in terms of how they affect humans, either in a positive way because they prey on other insects, or in a negative way because they do harm to crops or the lives of humans or domesticated animals or have been simply seen as pests. Our intent is to present insects for their intrinsic value, as players in natural processes, without the good/bad label.
Pete has underrepresented or omitted several orders of insects, even some that are very common, for a variety of reasons. Some insect groups likely to be encountered in daily life, such as mosquitoes, termites, or ants, are very difficult to identify to species, and many of the species that are small in size cannot be adequately identified by photograph. Many introduced insects that are common, such as honey bees, are not covered because this book emphasizes native species. Some aquatic insects that are well known to anglers, such as caddisflies and mayflies, have been omitted because they are well covered in several books on flyfishing and in the scientific literature; such insects are important to salmon and trout fisheries, but no more important than, say, dragonflies, which are included