The Benefits of Carrying a Field ID Guide

Oct 9, 2017

What comes to mind when I speak the term, “field identification?” What I personally think of is taking a walk around on the edge of the woods, ID guide in hand, naming all of the plants or bugs that I pass by. Even though this is technically field identification, there is much more to it than that.

Field identification is not simply a pastime. For me, it’s part of my lifestyle. Many times, I carry a small pocket wildflower ID book with me just in case I wonder, “What in the world is that plant?” And yes, I use the guide regularly. It’s also useful to have a butterfly/bug ID guide handy when I’m out working in the garden. I stumble on some unusual bug at least once a week. Every now and then, I accidentally leave my guide in the house. Of course, by the time I rush inside to grab it and hurry back out, the bug has disappeared.


Even if you don’t carry the ID guide with you wherever you go, there is a HUGE benefit to packing one on your monthly travels. I go on hikes about once a month. I usually come across some unique flower or tree on the trail, and instantly regret it if I didn’t bring my guide with me. Even when I’m walking in the downtown district of a city, there are always interesting forms of life no matter where I go.

Have I convinced you to carry a guide yet? Even if I haven’t, at least consider owning one “just in case.” 😉

Down below are some links to my favorite ID guides that have proved exceptional resources for me. Enjoy! (Disclaimer: includes affiliate links.)



This field guide to birds has a  proven track record with me. It is filled with colorful illustrations and descriptions of each bird, helping me to make a speedy identification.

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This field guide to bugs has you covered for all of the most common insects and arachnids in North America.

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The only butterfly guide you’ll ever need! Filled with colorful pictures and descriptions to go along with them, this book is a must-have for the avid butterfly enthusiast!




My favorite field guide to trees. I am in the east (just barely), so I use this guide.

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The western edition of my favorite tree ID guide!

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Weed ID guide for a huge variety of weeds in North America, from seed to maturity.


Wildflower guides are more area-specific, but here is the guide that I use in Louisiana. And no, I didn’t pay the current price for it. I bought it as a $25 book at a local bookstore.. Look up guides for your area and see what you find. Guides specializing in your area will be more reliable and accurate.

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