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Damselflies of Alberta
Flying Neon Toothpicks in the Grass
John Acorn
With iridescent blues and greens, damselflies are some of the most beautiful flying insects as well as the most primitive. As members of the insect order Odonata they are related to dragonflies but are classified in a separate suborder. These aquatic insects are a delight to the eye and a fascinating creature of study. In Damselflies of Alberta, naturalist John Acorn describes the twenty-two species native to the province. Exhaustively researched, yet written in an accessible style, the author's enthusiasm for these flying neon toothpicks is compelling. More than a field guide, this is a passionate investigation into one of nature's winged marvels of the wetlands.
Format:  Trade Paperback
ISBN:  978-0-88864-419-0
Price:  CND$ 29.95, USD$ 29.95, £ 24.99
Discount:  Trade
Subject:  Natural History/Insects
Publication Date:  September 2004
Awards
2005
Alberta Book Awards, 2005 Book Design of the Year
Reviews
"...Acorn's species accounts are very enticingly spiced with an abundance of well-researched (and sometimes quirky) natural history notes, scientific facts, interesting quotes and anecdotes. Indeed, these features should make it a well-read, used and sought-after book for a wide audience, including both amateur and professional naturalists, as well as field biologists and scientists, but also just 'plain folks' with a general curiosity about the natural world. In addition, the six introductory chapters preceding the species accounts also nicely summarize the biology and ecology of these amazing creatures and give a good overview of the history of research on damselflies in Alberta. Like the rest of the book, they are very well-documented and engagingly well-written by an obviously passionate entomologist who is also an acknowledged modern-day expert in scientific popular writing and communication. In summary, I believe many will find this book of interest. In nearly all respects, it is one of the best of its kind on the subject and should prove itself a very welcome addition to any nature enthusiast's library.”
Denis Doucet, Mount Allison University, Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Canada, September 2008
"An insect guide that's a good summer read? Apparently it is possible. With Damselflies of Alberta plus the beetle book that preceded it and the ladybug, dragonfly and big, snazzy moths' books to follow, U of A lecturer and author John Acorn swats away conventional approaches to entomological discussion. The result is a colourful little handbook filled with lighthearted observations. This is no ordinary science book.”
Westworld, June 2007
"I have a very strong interest in entomology, but no particular interest in Odonates, save for collecting the odd one for my odonatologist colleague. This small book has served to enlighten me and further my interest; I will look at damselflies more closely now. ...[T]his small book is packed with a lot of useful information on identification, ecology and behaviour of Alberta’s damselflies, and for that reason alone would make a worthwhile addition to a naturalist’s library.”
Randy Lauff, Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University, The Canadian Field-Naturalist, Vol.119.
“This is an intensely personal book, written by someone who observes and appreciates all aspects of nature and loves to educate anyone who will pay attention. The book treats the 22 species of zygopterans in Alberta in great detail and is without question a scholarly treatise. But it's worth having a copy just because it's a good read…How many books have you seen in which some of the species are introduced by limericks? Enough said.”
Dr. Dennis Paulson, University of Puget Sound, Faculty of Biology/Slater Museum of Natural History
"The first third of the volume covers damselfly biology, behaviour, morphology, and methods of study (including using field glasses) and gives details on methods of collection, preservation, labeling, and sources of information and equipment. The rest of the book provides accounts of individual species, with nice photos and distribution maps covering North America, not just Alberta, as well as user-friendly taxonomic keys. The individual species accounts offer the pleasures of engaging coverage and lots of take-away information. While Alberta species and where to find them are detailed here, many species are widespread.”
Dennis M. Lehmkuhl, Great Plains Research, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2005
"…this is a fine new handbook, well written and beautifully produced….[Acorn] is a brilliant and passionate nature communicator….The book's production values are excellent and each species is illustrated with at least one beautiful colour photograph as well as colour identification illustrations in the plates at the back. Anybody interested in insects or in wetland ecology in general will welcome this fine new addition to the literature.”
Christine Adkins, Vancouver Natural History Society, Discovery, Vol. 34, No. 1, Spring 2005

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