Venomous Animals & Poisonous Plants by Steven Foster

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This essential guide to safety in the field features 90 venomous animals and more than 250 poisonous plants and fungi.

The 340 line drawings make identification fast and simple; 160 species are also illustrated with color photographs.

This book, an exhaustive study of venomous animals and poisonous plants of North America, provides a wealth of photographs as well as b&w pen or pencil studies to go with descriptions of the creatures it discusses. For each organism it gives its common name (e.g., "Puss Moth Caterpillar"), its binomial scientific name (e.g., Megalopyge opercularis), a physical description, its usual habitat and range, and comments describing its method of delivering venom or poison to a foe or prey. Example: the Puss Moth Caterpillar. Also called Tree Asp. Densely hairy caterpillar with soft brown hair. Where found: Among trees, shrubs, orchards, and other vegetation from Md. to Fla., west to Mo. and Tex. Common in the South. Seen year round. Comments: Beneath the hairs are numerous poisonous spines, which can cause severe skin irritation and stinging. Each hair has its own supply of venom, sometimes contained in a single cell. Severity of reaction, ranging from a slight rash to shock, depends upon the individual's sensitivity. Sensitivity may increase with repeated exposure. Common symptoms include fainting, nausea, and vomiting, and in some cases severe shooting pains. (An exquisitely detailed pencil drawing of the puss moth is included on the facing page.) -- Ibid., p. 44. An excellent reference work -- I use it all the time for data on creatures living in California for our novels -- it's also wonderful for leisurely reading . . . if the shudders don't get to you first. In addition to its extensive entries on venomous animals and poisonous plants, it includes an index, a bibliography, and an introoduction. I find it indispensible for research, as well as a handsome volume whose photographs and drawings afford hours of aesthertic pleasure. Compact and durable, it makes a nice addition to any library, and is easily carried with one while traveling.

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