This was the first day out with my new telephoto converter (Raynox 2.2x converter for my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10 digital camera). The little egret (kosagi) was in a field and had its back to me when I first saw it from a distance (about 100m away), so I dived into a ditch and crawled in the mud a few meters until I was able to find some tall weeds growing at the side of the field. Poked my new lens through the weeds and zoomed in on the egret. Wow! I’m very pleased with the teleconverter and these shots.
Little Egret: Egretta garzetta: kosagi
I was looking for snakes in the straw alongside the stream, but it still came as a shock to see this long black “crow snake” (karasuhebi) moving rapidly across the path. I’d estimate it at about 150cm, perhaps bigger. There were so many frogs on the path too, so I’m sure the snake was not going hungry! This species looks scary because of its size and colour, but it is not venomous at all. It is actually the melanic form of the four-lined ratsnake (shimahebi).
Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae
Elaphe quadrivirgata (karashuhebi) = black Japanese four-lined ratsnake
Scorpion flies (shiriagemushi) are pretty weird-looking creatures! They have curled up tails (hence the name) and very distinctive “beaks.” Despite their appearance, they are harmless insects. They are also a very ancient group of insects, some 25o million years old, and some species are known as living fossils.
Scorpion fly: Panorpa japonica: shiriagemushi
I saw the eye spots and black body of this caterpillar in the weeds and thought it was a snake! Sneaking up closer to get a picture, I realized that it was an enormous caterpillar (about 12cm long), but I had no idea what butterfly/moth it would turn into. Eventually I found out on Internet that it’s the larva of an Impatiens Hawk Moth or sesujisuzume.
Impatiens Hawk Moth = sesujisuzume = Theretra oldenlandiae
Information (and pictures of adult moth): http://tpittaway.tripod.com/china/t_old.htm
Information in Japanese on the different species of mantis in Japan: here at Wikipedia
Order: Mantodea; Family: Mantidae
Statilia maculata = ko-kamakiri (Small Mantis)
During the summer months I see five or more lizards every time I step into the garden. I never get tired of watching them. This one was very tame and let me get really close before escaping, so I managed to get a pretty good photo of its head.
Reptilia: Squamata (scaled reptiles): Lacertilia (lizards): Lacertidae (wall lizards)
Japanese Grass Lizard: Takydromus tachydromoides (nihon kanahebi)
Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles)
Lema diversa = akakubi-boso-hamushi
Aya (my daughter) called me into the garden to watch a praying mantis (hirabiro kamakiri) stalking an adult cicada (abura-semi) on the trunk of a tree. We watched for a while, but it didn’t seem possible that the mantis could catch such a large prey, which probably weighed as much as the mantis. After about ten minutes I gave up and went inside. Half an hour later, however, Aya called me again because the mantis had actually succeeded in catching the cicada! The cicada had put up quite a fight, but the mantis had clung on and, in a superb demonstration of brute strength and skill, she had managed to subdue the cicada by biting through its wing muscles. Very impressive!
Indo-Pacific Mantis (hirabiro kamakiri)
Class: Insecta; Order: Mantodea; Family: Mantidae;
Large Brown Cicada (abura-semi)
Class: Insecta; Order: Hemiptera; Family: Cicadidae ;