Robber fly: Laphria mitsukurii

I’ve never noticed this kind of robber fly before, probably because it resembles a bumblebee. It has wonderful eyes that follow your every move. A pretty efficient predator I’d say.

Laphria mitsukuriiLaphria mitsukuriiLaphria mitsukurii

Diptera: Asilidae
Laphria mitsukurii
Robber fly = oo-ishi-abu

Location: fureiai-no-mori Forest Park in Munakata (map here)

Longhorn: Rhopaloscelis unifasciatus

Quite a small (8mm) and well-hidden longhorn, but I managed to find two of them today. And I’ve never found this species before, so I’m happy!

Rhopaloscelis unifasciatusRhopaloscelis unifasciatus

Coleoptera: Cerambycidae (Longhorn Beetles)
Rhopaloscelis unifasciatus
= hito-obi-arage-kamikiri

Location: fureiai-no-mori Forest Park in Munakata (map here)

Japanese Pit Viper

Today was very special — I found a Japanese pit viper (mamushi)! Every year I keep my eyes peeled for them, and I once found a dead one, but this is the first time I’ve been lucky enough to find a live one. It was just sitting there in the middle of the path in our local forest park (called fureiai-no-mori). As it was only about 40cm long and not so broad, I guess that it was quite young. Fully grown, they don’t get very long but they get much heavier. Anyway, it was an impressive and beautiful creature, and I was very happy to find it.

Gloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffii

Lots of children play in the forest park so I decided that I should take the viper deeper into the forest. I picked it up, put it in my camera bag and took it home first so that I could show my kids. It’s now sitting in a vivarium awaiting its release tomorrow morning. My other reason for transporting it elsewhere is that it has a greater chance of survival. At the moment there are lots of workers in the forest park cutting back the undergrowth and making paths. If any of them found a viper, you can pretty much guarantee they’d kill it!

Gloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffii
Don’t worry, although it looks as if I’m crushing its neck, I was very gentle… but holding tight enough that it wouldn’t be able to bite me! I wanted to get a photo of its fangs but it was too difficult to hold it and the camera and then try to prise its mouth open.

Reptilia: Squamata: Viperidae (kusarihebi)
Gloydius blomhoffii blomhoffii
nihon-mamushi = Japanese pit viper

Location: fureiai-no-mori Forest Park in Munakata (map here)

Black Ratsnake

A great day for snakes! I spotted the black ratsnake in the first photo at the side of the track and took a couple of photos before it slithered off into the grass. Then, only about 100m further down the road, I saw a second ratsnake in the middle of a field. It was a bit bigger than the first one — about 120cm I guess. I almost didn’t bother going into the field as I’d already got plenty of photos of this species, but it looked a bit odd — its body looked crinkly, for want of a better description. As I got nearer, I realised that it had a frog in its mouth and was in the process of unhinging its jaws to swallow the poor thing. I’m pretty pleased with the last photo in the series below. Unfortunately for the snake, and very fortunately for the frog, I got a bit too close and the snake threw the frog from its mouth before shooting off across the field. It’s incredible how fast snakes can move when they want to!

Elaphe quadrivirgataElaphe quadrivirgataElaphe quadrivirgataElaphe quadrivirgata

Reptilia: Ophidia: Colubridae:
Elaphe quadrivirgata
Japanese four-lined ratsnake = shimahebi = karasu-hebi (lit. “crow snake”)

Location: Fields near Akama in Munakata (map here)

Ant Lions

I stumbled across these small pits in a sandy area within Uminonakamichi Seaside Park in Fukuoka. I guessed they were ant lion pits, so I dug one up and there it was, the perfect little hidden hunter. What a ferocious-looking creature!

Ant lions wait in the bottoms of their pits and when insects (such as ants) fall in, they grab these and suck out the blood through hollow points in their mandibles. It’s no wonder they are called “ant hell” (ari-jigoku) in Japanese.

I’m planning to go back there in a couple of weeks to see if they’ve grown. Some species grow up to 2cm.

The adults look like dragonflies (see here).

ant lionant lionant lionant lion

Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae
Ant Lion = usubakagerou

Location: Uminonakamichi Seaside Park (map here)

Fiddle Beetle

This very large carabid is called a “fiddle beetle” due to its shape. Among other things, it feeds on snails. This one seemed to be feeding on tree sap, unless it was eating the other insects that were feeding on the tree sap. I’ve seen them several times before, but it never fails to impress when you come across something this big on the tree or path in front of you.

Damaster blaptoidesDamaster blaptoides

Damaster blaptoides
Fiddle beetle = maimaikaburi

Location: Munakata Common (map)

A pretty poor photo I know, but this little leaf beetle flew off before I could get a second shot…

Lema diversa

Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles)
Lema decempunctata
= tohoshi-kubi-boso-hamushi

Location: On the edge of Munakata Common (map)

Click Beetle

Lots of these click beetles were flying around one particular tree (I’m sorry I didn’t identify the tree!). They are pretty big and their method of flying is quite ungainly, elytra out to the sides and abdomens hanging down, making them look like flying crucifixes. They were very active and wouldn’t keep still to be photographed but I managed to catch one in my hat. I put it on a leaf and it immediately took off again! By the way, the male uses its huge feathery antennae for detecting females.

Pectocera fortuneiPectocera fortunei

Coleoptera: Elateridae (click beetles)
Pectocera fortunei = hige-kometsuki

Location: Munakata Common (map here)

Japanese Cedar Longhorn

Rei and I went for a walk in the forest and came across three small longhorn beetles running around on a freshly cut log. They would not keep still, which made taking photos difficult! At first I thought they might belong to two different species, but it turned out that the red one is the female and the darker ones (big and small) are both males.

This species is a pest of cedar trees and I found an information page for it here:

Callidiellum rufipenneCallidiellum rufipenneCallidiellum rufipenneCallidiellum rufipenneCallidiellum rufipenneCallidiellum rufipenne

Coleoptera: Cerambycidae
Callidiellum rufipenne
Japanese cedar longhorn beetle = hime-sugi-kamikiri

Location: In the forest above Yokoyama Village in Munakata (map).