BioInfo (UK)

Joy, N., 1932

A Practical Handbook of British Beetles

For many years, this has been The Bible (or at least the New Testament to Fowler's Old Testament) for beetle identification.

The book consists almost entirely of keys. In the main they are well thought out and work well. A second volume of line drawings can be consulted simultaneously. The "practical" in the title emphasises that the book is easy to use (and is perhaps a gentle dig at his old friend, Fowler.) Most species can be identified from their uppersides (specimens in beetle collections were conventionally glued to card) and generally with a x12 hand lens, although a binocular microscope with good lighting is infinitely preferable.

However, it is now an old work and the classification and nomenclature are well out of date and it's not always straightforward to convert Joy's names to their modern equivalents. Furthermore many species have been added since Joy's time, so Hodge and Jones' "New British Beetles: species not in Joy’s practical handbook" is invaluable here.

Nowadays the Practical Handbook is almost unobtainable. It was reprinted by Classey as a single volume, but these are also quite hard to find.

A digital form is available (searchable PDF) from Pisces Conservation.

Publisher H. F. & G. Witherby
Pages 622 & 170
Web site$softebookmenu.html
Comments and Corrigenda The addenda, on p621, include changes to Orchestes (p206) and Malachius (p434).

"New British Beetles: species not in Joy’s practical handbook" by Hodge and Jones lists the additional species with references. They also give many hints and corrections to the keys.
Coverage Almost all beetles, excluding Stylops, known from Britain at the time. A few very rare species were omitted.
Illustrations Line drawings in volume 2.
Identify With x15 or x20 hand lens (also useful to examine under a Stereo Microscope).
Specimen Prep. Pinned or carded specimens.
Difficulty A bit variable, but the "Practical" philosophy of the title has been adhered to.

Malcolm Storey

Taxonomic Scope

COLEOPTERA Linnaeus, 1758 (beetles) Identification Current


Changes since Joy Hodge, P.J. & Jones, R.A., 1995
updated version Joy’s keys to Elateridae, Eucnemidae and Throscidae:
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