Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
A Manual of Common Beetles of Eastern North America
By Dillon, Elizabeth S., and Dillon, Lawrence
Row, Peterson, and Company, 1961
Cite: 2732 with citation markup [cite:2732]
This is long out-of-print, but can be found on the used market. Though old, it is still an extremely useful reference. Has approximately 1,000 good black-and-white illustrations and several pages of color plates. Coverage of widespread, strongly-marked species is quite good. Has keys as well, which can be used by the amateur with a little luck. This is my first choice for identifying an unknown beetle. Taxonomy is out of date in many cases, so names must be used with care.

Original (1961) hardback edition was in one volume. There was a Dover reprint, circa 1971, in two volumes. (Be sure to get both volumes if you are buying that reprint edition.)

I like http://www.bookfinder.com/ as a "meta" search engine for used books. It seems to cover all the major used book lists.

Beetle Guide Question
Which of these guides would someone suggest as a first beetle guide? The Manual of Common Beetles of Eastern North America, the Peterson Guide to Beetles, or something else? I'm a beginner to beetle ID but not a total novice. Thanks, Wanda

Looking
Now that I've seen just how often Patrick uses this book to make id's, I'm convinced I need it. I'll be looking for it!

 
useful, still need others
There are so darn many beetles out there, I'm trying to get any reference I can find. There are some common and distinctive species here in North Carolina that are not in Dillon and Dillon, but the coverage is better than other books I've seen. Having many species on each plate is helpful for "flipping through" to look for distinctively-patterned species.

I just got Arnett's, How to Know..., and am much more impressed with the current, spiral bound edition. An older edition I had perused at a library had poor reproduction of the illustrations--the 1980 copyright edition by Wm. C. Brown is fine.