Emperor cranefly

This is the second time I’ve found one of these huge craneflies (Mikado gaganbo), but the last time I couldn’t get decent photos. I actually trod on this one by accident and it suffered no harm, so they seem to be pretty tough creatures! As you can see from the photo of me holding it, this really is a big insect, with a wingspan of around 8cm and a legspan of 15cm. Harmless of course, but I’m sure it would scare many people! [In comparison, the craneflies common in the UK are around 5 or 6cm from legtip to legtip.]

Ctenacroscelis mikadoCtenacroscelis mikadoCtenacroscelis mikado

Diptera: Tipulidae
Ctenacroscelis mikado = Mikado gaganbo


This yellow cranefly (kiirohoso-gaganbo) was resting on a leaf in a neighbour’s garden.

Nephrotoma virgataNephrotoma virgata

Diptera: Tipulidae
Nephrotoma virgata = kiirohoso-gaganbo


Well, the weather’s hot and the mosquitoes are out in force again. I was trying to take photos of beetles in the forest this morning and, in the process, was donating blood to hundreds of mosquitoes. I need to start using repellent again. This species is called the Asian Tiger Mosquito or Forest Day Mosquito (Japanese= hitosujishima-ka) and it is pretty nasty! In fact, the scientific name for the genus Aedes comes from the Greek word for unpleasant or odious. It is known to carry dengue fever (but not in Japan luckily). The species is easy to identify with its black and white striped legs.

Link to Wikipedia article on this species: Aedes albopictus

Aedes albopictusAedes albopictus

Diptera: Culicidae
Aedes albopictus = Asian Tiger Mosquito = hitosujishima-ka

Hunchbacked Fly

Lots of these small (6-8mm) strange-looking hunchbacked flies hanging around the hedge parsley in a clearing in the woods. Not easily disturbed.

Philopota nigroaenea

Diptera: Acroceridae: Philopota nigroaenea (sedakakogashira abu)

Robber Fly

Robber Fly (abu)
We get these robber flies in the garden throughout the summer. Because of their size, I’m always wary of them (for the sake of the kids!) but it seems that they are beneficial as they prey on other insects (see photos below).

“As their common name implies, robber flies have voracious appetites and feed on a vast array of other arthropods, which may help to maintain a healthy balance between insect populations in various habitats (Joern and Rudd 1982, Shurovnekov 1962). Asilidae adults attack wasps, bees, dragonflies, grasshoppers, other flies, and some spiders.” From: http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/beneficial/flies/robber_flies.htm

Order: Diptera; Family: Asilidae; Subfamily: Apocleinae
Species: Promachus yesonicus
length: male 18-28mm, female 22-30mm
Japanese name: shioya-abu

Female robber flyMale robber flyTwo robber flies mating on Shinobu's hand!Even while mating, this robber fly continued to eat the beetle it had caught!Face of a robber fly!

Robber Flies: Page with lots of information about this group of flies (page created by German dipterologist and museum curator).

Asilidae in Japan

Information on flies at Wikipedia

By chance I just found the homepage of a fellow insect lover in Fukuoka: OSAMU FUKUDA

Japanese grass lizard

We have so many lizards in our garden and we all enjoy watching them basking in the sun or stalking insects and spiders. It takes patience to sneak up on the adults to take photos but they are very photogenic creatures. We also occasionally find their eggs in a patch of ferns in the corner of the garden. The young lizards are tiny and look so cute and vulnerable as they crawl through the grass (although “cute” and “vulnerable” are probably not apt to describe their appearance from an ant’s perspective!!)

Takydromus tachydromoidesTakydromus tachydromoidesTakydromus tachydromoidesTakydromus tachydromoides

Reptilia: Squamata (scaled reptiles): Lacertilia (lizards): Lacertidae (wall lizards)
Japanese Grass Lizard: Takydromus tachydromoides (nihon kanahebi)