According to entomologists, up to 35,000 distinct insect species live in California, and you can bet many of those species consider Sonoma County — with its comfy weather, generous forests, and plentiful waters — their home turf. If you want to learn about these tiny and (usually) unobtrusive neighbors, pick up one of these insect guides (or the app) and bring it along on your next adventure:
A broad overview: “A Field Guide to Insects: America North of Mexico,” by Peterson Field Guides, covers insects in the U.S. and Canada. It offers 1,300 drawings and 142 color paintings; detailed descriptions of insect orders, families and many individual species; a glossary; and a visual identification system and more. (Houghton Mifflin, 416 pages, $19)
A narrower overview: “California Insects, a California Natural History Guide,” from University of California Press, sharpens its focus on 600 of the state’s most characteristic types of insects (out of an estimated 30 to 35,000 resident species). Each entry discusses features of the insects’ biology, appearance, geographical distribution within the state and an illustration of each. (UC Press, 400 pages, $28)
Making it fun: “Backyard Bugs: An Identification Guide to Common Insects, Spiders, and More” entertains while informing you about bugs in your own backyard or neighborhood park. More than 150 species are organized by where you’ll find them (on flowers, beneath leaves, etc.). Full-color photos, fascinating facts and amusing “buggy” activities for the family to share. (Adventure Publications, 224 pages, $11)
Get interactive: Download a free copy of the immensely popular iNaturalist app and become a crowdsourcing citizen scientist, sharing observations of insects you come across and learning from others. Online, iNaturalist has a section on Sonoma County plants, animals and insects — it’s amazing. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, so you’ll be playing and sharing with the big kids. (Available from Google Play and Apple App Store. Free)
North Coast Wine Challenge Tasting Event
When: May 15, 2016, 1-4 p.m.
Where: Sonoma Mountain Village, Rohnert Park