October 2006


Found a few of these small copper butterflies (benishijimi) on a walk with the kids along a country lane. Very easy to photograph (the butterflies and kids!).

Fields in MunakataSmall copper

Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae
benishijimi = Lycaena phlaeas daimio

This beautiful hawk moth caterpillar was sitting on a tree support post (keyaki tree) at the university in Tagawa. Probably looking for a good place to pupate.

Information (& pictures) in Japanese here.

Callambulyx tatarinovii

Lepidoptera: Sphingidae
unmonsuzume = Callambulyx tatarinovii

Found a couple of these dung beetles on the road next to a rice paddy. The Japanese name is senchikogane. The first part of the name senchi is the old name for Japanese toilets (holes in the ground) and the second part kogane is the name for this group of beetles (scarabs).

Geotrupes auratusGeotrupes auratusGeotrupes auratusGeotrupes auratus

Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae
Geotrupes auratus (oosenchi kogane)

One of the fields (of sweet potatoes) that I regularly walk past has several pheromone traps around it, so I decided to find out what they were trapping. The moths inside the trap were pretty battered and hard to identify, but I searched on the Internet for pictures of pheromone traps and found the same type, together with similar looking moths. It seems that the pest species is commonly known as the “armyworm” (Spodoptera litura) and it is a very serious pests of many kinds of crops, including sweet potatoes. Link to more information here.

Spodoptera lituraSpodoptera litura

Lepidoptera: Noctuidae
Spodoptera litura = hasumon-yotou

Order: Passeriformes; Family: Motacillidae
Motacilla alba
Pied (White) Wagtail = hakuse-kirei

Location: Munakata

I met this huge carabid walking at high speed along the path towards me. It was very easy to catch but was pretty aggressive, with large mandibles. At about 50mm long it was a very impressive specimen. It’s called a maimaikaburi in Japanese and it eats snails, hence the elongated head/thorax allowing it to get right up into the snail shell. This shape apparently looks like a violin, so it’s sometimes called a “fiddle beetle.”

Damaster blaptoidesDamaster blaptoidesDamaster blaptoidesDamaster blaptoides

Carabidae:
damaster blaptoides (maimaikaburi)

The Tiger Keelback or Japanese Water Snake (yamakagashi) is such a beautiful snake, with red and black spots along its body, but it is also venomous. Apparently there are not too many cases of people being killed because the snake is relatively quiet and tries to escape rather than attack. This snake does not have the usual front “fangs” we associate with venomous snakes, but instead has venomous molars (i.e. at the back of the mouth). It also has venom glands located on its neck from which, as an anti-predator mechanism, it sprays poison into its attacker’s eyes. I didn’t know this piece of information until after I researched about the snake, but I didn’t notice anything spray out when I picked it up. I will be more careful next time!!
It took quite a while to catch this snake. I saw one sliding through the grass at the side of a small ditch, but it escaped before I got near to it. Then I spotted another and tried to grab it, missing it by inches. I’m not quite sure how many snakes there were at this location, but there seemed to be quite a few because I made four separate attempts in different places before I finally caught one. It was either several snakes or the same one that popped up in different places along a 50m stretch of the ditch!
This species of snake eats frogs and toads.

Rhabdophis tigrinusRhabdophis tigrinus
Rhabdophis tigrinusRhabdophis tigrinus

Reptilia: Colubridae: Rhabdophis tigrinus
Tiger Keelback or Japanese Water Snake = yamakagashi

The female of this species is really huge, almost 8cm long in some cases, which makes it Japan’s largest grasshopper. As you can see in the photo, the male/female size difference is considerable. Although the distance they jump can be impressive, they are relatively easy to catch.

acrida cinereaacrida cinerea

Oriental longheaded grasshopper
Acrida cinerea antennata = shouryou-bata

There were several of these beautiful tiger beetles along the path through the forest next to our campsite (in Kumamoto). I lay on the path and watched them hunting. Didn’t see any hunting success unfortunately!

Cicindela chinensis japonicaCicindela chinensis japonicaCicindela chinensis japonicaCicindela chinensis japonica

Order: Coleoptera
Family: Carabidae
Subfamily: Cicindelinae

Cicindela chinensis japonica
Japanese Tiger Beetle = hanmyou

This graceful little planarian (flatworm) was gliding across some leaves at the side of the road in broad daylight. They usually prefer damp conditions and tend to be most active at night. Land planaria usually hunt earthworms and other small soil creatures and, despite their leech-like appearance, they are harmless to humans.

planarianplanarianplanarian

Land planaria factsheet: http://entweb.clemson.edu/cuentres/eiis/pdfs/hs45.pdf (pdf file)