His Diversae Insectarum Volatium icones ad vivum accuratissimè depictae per celeberrimum pictorem, published by Nicolao Ioannis Visscher in Amsterdam in 1630 is one of the earliest works dealing exclusively with insects.
Jacob Hoefnagel was the son of Georg Hoefnagel (1545–1600), an Antwerp artist employed by the dukes of Bavaria who undertook illustrations of plant and animal specimens in the cabinet of Emperor Rudolph II, at Prague. Jacob engraved copies of his father's paintings which he described as "A pattern or copy-book for artists, displaying on sixteen plates about 340 insects, mostly larger than life".
A single convex lens was used in the preparation of some of the drawings for this book,
So far as known, the pictures of Hoefnagel are the earliest printed figures of magnified objects(Locy, The Story of Biology, p. 199). The 16 beautiful engravings depict 302 insects, in order 37 Coleoptera, 22 Orthoptera, 14 Odonata, 16 Neuroptera, 72 Lepidoptera, 35 Hymenoptera, 78 Diptera, 21 Hemiptera, and 7 larvae; from central- and north Germany.
- Gilbert, P. 2000: Butterfly Collectors and Painters. Four centuries of colour plates from The Library Collections of The Natural History Museum, London. Singapore, Beaumont Publishing Pte Ltd; x, 166 p.