June 2005


Spent another three hours in the sea today – mainly alone but the kids joined me for the final hour.

Rei and Aya in the seaAya snorkelling

I’m finding it very difficult to get the high quality photos I’d like to take. I guess one of the problems is that I’m only snorkelling and it’s very difficult to keep still underwater because, if I stop swimming, I float to the surface again (wearing a wetsuit). I’m learning to hold onto rocks or seaweed holdfasts with one hand in order to stay still. However, I can only stay down for a minute or so, which isn’t enough time for the fish to come back after I’ve disturbed them. I’ll need to learn to hold my breath for longer!! Also, because I’m only holding the camera with one hand, it’s difficult to keep it steady and manipulate the controls. I don’t know if it’s the camera or me, but getting pictures in focus is tricky. I’m sure my photos will get better with practice.

beautiful little fish (nabeka)beautiful little fish (nabeka)Mullet (bora) - 50cm longMullet (bora) - 50cm longwrasse (bera)a puffer fish (fugu) and another fish hiding under a rockanother kind of wrasse I thinkanother kind of wrasse I thinkSea anemone on rockSea anemone in sandstarfish (itomakihitode)starfish (itomakihitode) and sea urchinsmoon jellyfish (mizukurage) - a bit damagedrock fisha kind of sponge I think (with a hermit crab)there were lots of these tiny fish

I took the kids along to the beach this evening. Nice sunset! We found lots of hermit crabs (yadokari), as usual, and also found the weirdest little crab. It was a species of spider crab (kumogani) that disguises itself by growing seaweed all over its body. It was almost invisible among the weeds! Another interesting find was a ball of shrimps (presumably mating).

sunsetboat in the sunsetAya and Rei looking in the rock poolshermit crab with red feelersdisguised spider crabdisguised spider crabdisguised spider crabball of shrimpsfunamushifunamushi

I bought a new digital camera (Sony Cybershot DSC-P100) and its underwater housing (MPK-PHB). Only cost 48,000 yen in total. The pictures below are from my first day using it (= today). I was in the sea for three hours and could hardly walk when I got back to the beach!! [Apologies for the lack of identification.]

View from the seaNice portrait!big fish swimming byunderwater worldsea slugsea spongeFish under a rockSwimming away from me fastvery pretty fishrock fishfish among barnaclesfish among barnaclesshoal of fishshoal of fishSea hareyellow fish

I’ve been surprised at just how many different kinds of spiders live in our garden. Here are pictures of a few of them.

ant hunting spiders battle it outant hunting spiders battle it outant hunting spiderant hunting spider

The first four photos show an interesting little drama. These ant hunting spiders are tiny (not much bigger than ants themselves). The female caught an ant and the male seemed to want to take it from her. They had a brief tug of war, which the bigger female won of course. It was comical (but not so funny for the ant I guess!)

lying in wait under a flowerlying in wait under a flower

The spider waiting under the flower was pretty big (about 4cm across) and she had what looked like a very effective hunting method. As soon as anything landed on the flower, she was ready to grab it. I saw her fail on a bee, but I’m sure she would succeed on many other targets.

spider in its tunnel webinteresting websasagumosasagumo

I’ve not yet attempted to identify these spiders. Hoping to do so during the winter.

There were three species of scarab beetles (koganemushi) in the park today.

mamekoganemamekoganemamekogane
kanabunsemadarakogane

Order: Coleoptera; Family: Scarabaeidae
Subfamily: Cetoniinae
kanabun = Rhomborrhina japonica

Order: Coleoptera; Family: Scarabaeidae
Subfamily: Rutelinae (Shining Leaf Chafers)
mamekogane = Popillia japonica
semadarakogane = Blitopertha orientalis

The kanabun was on a small oak tree, feeding on tree sap that was leaking from a cut. It’s a pretty big beetle (about 25mm) and it’s quite common here in the summer – crashing into lighted windows at night usually!! This one flew away really fast when I disturbed it. I wanted to take a better picture but I couldn’t this time.

The smaller (10-12mm) mamekogane is present in huge numbers. They are everywhere! And they eat the leaves of many different plants – destroying many of Shinobu’s garden plants (especially the roses) much to her annoyance. In America, where this insect is a pest, it is called a “Japanese Beetle.” Here is some more information about this species: Ministry of Agriculture (British Columbia).

The small (8-13mm) semadarakogane is also pretty common, but nowhere near as common as mamekogane. It also has great potential as a pest species, and so appears on notification lists in various countries.

Today was longhorn beetle day! We found three different species of longhorn beetles (kamikiri) near the house. The first two (beni-kamikiri and gomadara-kamikiri) were on a small oak tree in the park. The other one (ramii-kamikiri) was on a bush in someone’s garden. Actually, we found three gomadara longhorns today. This is such an impressive species of beetle – about 3cm long with 5cm long antennae! The picture I took with it’s antennae in the air is one of my favourite photos of all time, so this is now my desktop picture. If you’d like a desktop version yourself, you can download it here: desktop longhorn.

benikamikiribenikamikiriramii-kamikiriramii-kamikirigomadara kamikirigomadara kamikirigomadara kamikirigomadara kamikiri

beni-kamikiri = Purpuricenus (Sternoplistes) temminckii
ramii-kamikiri = Paraglenea fortunei
gomadara-kamikiri = Anoplophora malasiaca

I watched this lizard stalking a big robber fly (abu) from at least two meters away. The robber fly was probably also hunting for prey (they even attack bees), but ended up a victim. The fly seemed to be too big a mouthful for the little lizard, but it somehow managed to force the insect into its mouth.

Takydromus tachydromoidesTakydromus tachydromoidesTakydromus tachydromoides

I found two paper wasps’ nests within 50m of each other in an area of undeveloped land near our house (we call this area “wild hill”). Actually, I was there looking for snakes (which I didn’t find this time). I nearly stepped on the first nest, but was looking carefully when I found the second. The wasps were so busy making their nests that they completely ignored my presence (thankfully!!)

Insecta: Hymenoptera: Vespidae
Paper Wasp (futamon ashinagabachi) = Polistes chinensis (14-18mm)
Information:
Wikipedia (in English)
Nagoya City (in Japanese)

Grassland where I found the nestsWasps making a nestWasps making a nestWasps making a nestWasps making a nestWasps making a nest

Found these two woodlice in the first stage of mating. According to the earthlife factsheet for raising woodlice, the mating process is as follows: “The male climbs onto a receptive female, licks her head and drums on her back with his legs for about five minutes. He then shifts to a diagonal position on the female’s back and passes sperm to her left side genital opening from his right hand stylets. He then changes his position to the opposite diagonal and deposits sperm in her right hand genital opening from his left hand stylet. Sperm transfer takes about 5 minutes for each side. In some species such as Philoscia muscorum and Armadillidium vulgare breeding is synchronised within a colony so that all breed at the same time.”

Crustacea: Isopoda: Oniscidea
Common pill bug (okadangomushi) = Armadillidium vulgare

common pill bugcommon pill bug

There are lots of sand digger wasps in this area. They dig burrows in the sand and store caterpillars (and other insects) as food for their grubs. They are extremely strong and I’ve seen them carrying huge caterpillars.

Insecta: Hymenoptera: Sphecidae
Sand Digger Wasp (jigabachi) = Ammophila sabulosa (22-28mm)

Sand Digger WaspSand Digger WaspSandy area

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