Rhinoceros Beetles

I’ve found rhinoceros beetles (kabuto-mushi) every night that I’ve visited this nature park during the summer. The population must be pretty healthy, but unfortunately I also meet people coming to collect them. I met one guy who had about 20 and boasted that he would sell them for 500 yen each. It’s a pity that some people abuse nature in this way. I just hope that the population does not decline.

Allomyrina dichotomaAllomyrina dichotoma

We spotted this pair mating high up in a tree. After a while they started feeding together and, while they were both struggling to get the tree sap, the male managed to knock the female off the branch. Talk about “wham bam, thank you mam”!!!

Allomyrina dichotomaAllomyrina dichotomaAllomyrina dichotomaAllomyrina dichotomaAllomyrina dichotomaAllomyrina dichotoma

Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae
Allomyrina dichotoma
Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle = kabuto-mushi

Location: Tsurugidake Natural Park, Kurate, Fukuoka-ken (google map)

Hirata Stag Beetle

We found a few of these stag beetles (hirata-kuwagata) when we were out beetle hunting last night. It was great to find a male and female feeding together on tree sap. We brought them home to take some photographs and then, this morning, I took them back to the same place to release them.

This species of stag beetle shows a lot of variation in the serrations on its mandibles, but the main identification feature is a split labrum (“upper lip”).

I found a very interesting scientific paper on the problem of imported and released pet stag beetles interbreeding with the native populations: here (pdf file).

beetle huntingbeetle huntingbeetle huntingbeetle hunting

Coleoptera: Lucanidae
Dorcus titanus
(aka. Serrognathus platymelus)
Hirata stag beetle = hirata-kuwagata

Location: Tsurugidake Natural Park, Kurate, Fukuoka-ken (google map)

Beetle Hunting

I took my kids and the neighbor’s kids out beetle hunting last night. It was a bit spooky in the forest, but we found a few stag beetles (kuwagata-mushi) and rhinocerous beetles (kabuto-mushi), so everyone was happy!

beetle huntingbeetle huntingbeetle hunting

Location: Tsurugidake Natural Park, Kurate, Fukuoka-ken (google map)

Two species of hornet

This was at night in a forest park near Nogata, called Tsurugi-dake Natural Park (map here), and it’s a great place to find stag beetles (kuwagata) and Japanese rhinoceros beetles (kabuto-mushi).

I found two species of hornet (and lots of other things!) feeding on sap this evening. The larger one is Vespa mandarina (oo-suzume-bachi) and the smaller one is V. tropica pulchra (kogata-suzume-bachi). By the way, the metallic scarab beetles in the picture are Rhomborrhina japonica (kanabun).

Vespa mandarina is known as the Asian Giant Hornet and not only is it the largest hornet, it’s also the most venomous insect in the world (per sting). Lucky for me that this one was more interested in the tree sap than my thumb!

There’s an interesting article about the Asian Giant Hornet on wikipedia.

Hymenoptera: Vespidae
Vespa mandarina japonica = oo-suzume-bachi

Hymenoptera: Vespidae
Vespa tropica pulchra (synonym V. ducalis) = kogata-suzume-bachi

Link here to a page explaining the differences between the two species (in Japanese but with pictures).

Burrowing Cockroach

We were happy to find this burrowing cockroach (oogokiburi) when we visited Sugao-no-taki Waterfall near Kitakyushu.

burrowing roachburrowing roachburrowing roachburrowing roach

Insecta: Pterygota: Blattodea
Burrowing cockroach: oogokiburi: Panesthia angustipennis spadica

Five-lined Skink

We spotted this five-lined skink (nihontokage) when we were at Sugao-no-taki Waterfalls near Kitakyushu. Young five-lined skinks, like this one, have blue tails and five lines down their bodies. They lose these when they become adult.

Eumeces latiscutatusEumeces latiscutatusEumeces latiscutatus

Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae (skinks)
Eumeces latiscutatus (nihontokage) = Japanese Five-lined Skink

Jellyfish & more

Went snorkelling with my friends Bob and Chris in a different place to usual, near a small lighthouse just up the coast from Ashiya. Link to map and aerial photo here.

We immediately realized our mistake of swimming in the jellyfish season! The sea was quite choppy and the waves seemed to have concentrated lots of the little buggers in the cove. I thought I’d be OK with wetsuit, hat and gloves, but still managed to get stung on the face. Also stupidly caught a jellyfish with my gloved hand, which was OK, but then after letting it go I wiped the water from my face and found that the stings were embedded in my glove = not very pleasant at all. By the way, these jellyfish are a kind of box jelly (andon kurage) but they are not so venomous. They can leave a nasty welt across your skin but don’t do anything more serious. However, this will be the last day we get in the sea until next year!!

Two videos:
1) Box jellyfish (2.96MB)
2) Ray (1.48MB)

Phylum: Cnidaria; Class: Cubozoa; Order: Carybdeidae; Species: Charybdea rastonii


Despite the hundreds of jellyfish, the choppy water and the poor visibility, we found quite a few interesting things. When I have time, I’ll try to get around to identifying them:

crabcrab on Boblighthousefishrock fishshrimpsmall blue fishray

Lionfish & Eel

Very exciting dip in the sea today! Spotted a beautiful lionfish (kasago) and several eels (unagi). The lionfish was only about 50m out from a very popular beach, which is a little concerning since it has venomous spines. This is only the second time I’ve ever seen one despite swimming in this bay most weekends throughout the summer for the past few years. I swam around the lionfish for quite a while trying to get decent shots, but it was about 5m deep and I couldn’t hold the camera steady enough. I’ve seen eels many times before, but this was the first time I succeeded in getting photos.
By the way, the other two photos in this blog entry show some kind of flatfish. So well camouflaged until it moves.


Scorpionfish family = Scorpaenidae
Luna Lionfish = Pterois lunulata (but this needs checking)

Eel family = Anguillidae
Japanese eel = Anguilla japonica (but this needs checking)


Antlions (usubakagerou) are so called because their young prey on ants, which they catch by constructing pitfall traps in sandy soil, lying in wait at the bottom with their mandibles open. The adults feed on pollen and nectar. This one flew into my office (in Tagawa) and perched up on the ceiling.

Myrmeleon formicariusMyrmeleon formicarius

Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae
Myrmeleon formicarius (?) = ko-usubakagerou