Four-Lined Ratsnake

Wow! I was taking a photo of a beetle on a leaf when I saw this beautiful little Japanese four-lined ratsnake (shimahebi) lying on a branch about 50cm from my face! I thought it was a venomous Viper (mamushi) at first so I jumped. Anyway, I grabbed its tail and dropped it into an insect cage, so that I could take it home to show the kids. A very exciting morning.

Reptilia: Ophidia: Colubridae
Japanese four-lined ratsnake: shimahebi: Elaphe quadrivirgata
80cm – 150cm (nonvenomous)
This one is a juvenile, measuring only around 50cm.

Japanese four-lined ratsnakeJapanese four-lined ratsnakeJapanese four-lined ratsnakeJapanese four-lined ratsnakeJapanese four-lined ratsnakeJapanese four-lined ratsnakeJapanese four-lined ratsnake

Information from Ishikawa Prefecture:

According to the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, the young of this species are often mistaken for vipers (mamushi) because of their similar patterning: (in Japanese)

Here’s some information from Nara University of Education:


I was driving home in the rain late last night, when this huge bullfrog leapt out in front of the car. I swerved to avoid it then jumped out of the car to try to catch it. Just managed to grab its legs as it was in mid-leap and aiming for a rice paddy. I didn’t have anything to put it in, so I just took my shirt off and wrapped it in that! I was very near home, so I thought it would be OK. Put it into a fish tank with a bit of water and some ferns (the first thing I found in the garden). What a beauty this frog is! I took pictures of it in the garden this morning and it tried to escape (it can hop in one-meter bounds) but I caught it again in the neighbor’s garden. Mr Imaya (neighbor) said that they get even bigger than this and you can still eat them in some restaurants (no thank you!)
Apparently, this species was introduced from North America and it has become widespread in Japan. (About 15 of these frogs were brought to Japan in 1918 by a Tokyo University professor). The bullfrog eats insects, worms, fish, small snakes, etc and is not thought to cause much harm to the Japanese ecosystems it inhabits.

Amphibia: Ranidae:
Bullfrog = ushigaeru = Rana catesbeiana

bullfrogbullfrogbullfrogbullfrogbullfrogbullfrogbullfrogbullfrog in defensive stance (also noisy)

28-spotted ladybird

These 28-spotted ladybirds (njuuya-hoshi-tentou) are pretty common, but it wasn’t until I looked in my “Coleoptera of Japan” book, that I found out that there are three very similar species: E. vigintioctopunctata, E. vigintioctomaculata, and E. niponica. The difference between them lies in the size of the spots (or % of the elytra covered). I’m pretty sure that this is the intermediate one: Epilachna vigintioctomaculata.

Osaka Museum of Natural History has a page showing the difference between the three species:
They also have a nice ladybird picture key:

Epilachna vigintioctomaculataEpilachna vigintioctomaculata

Coleoptera: Coccinellidae
Epilachna vigintioctomaculata = oo-njuuya-hoshi-tentou (greater 28-spotted ladybird)


This is the first one of these weevils (nagazoumushi) I’ve seen myself, but they are common. At 10mm, it’s pretty big for a weevil and it has very distinctive thick legs. The black and white markings camouflage the beetle by making it look like a bird dropping. Its second line of defense is to suddenly fold up its legs and drop to the ground.

Coleoptera: Curculionidae
weevil = ojiroashi nagazoumushi = Mesalcidodes trifidus


Green Chafer

I’ve seen quite a few of these beautiful metallic green beetles around in the last few days. They are about 15-20mm long.

Green Chafer = aodougane = Anomala albopilosa

Green chaferGreen chafer


We’ve had two days of heavy rain (it’s a late rainy season this year). After the rain, the temperature was 30 degrees and the humidity reached almost 90%, which was pretty horrible! The plus side, however, was that there were hundreds of butterflies flying around in these semi-tropical conditions, so I enjoyed a couple of hours taking photos. Some of the pictures below are not so good, but I’ve included them just to show the variety of butterflies that come into the garden. I failed to take photos of another couple of species, so I reckon more than ten species visited us in the space of two hours. Not bad!

ageha = Papilio xuthus
tsumagurohyoumon = Argyreus hyperbius
akatateha = Vanessa indica indica
benishijimi = Lycaena phlaeas daimio
monshirochou = Pieris rapae crucivora
monkichou = Colias erate poliographus
nagasakiageha = Papilio memnon thunbergii (male – in bad condition)
tsubameshijimi = Everes argiades

[I hope that I’ve identified all of these correctly – feel free to correct my identifications]

agehaagehatsumagurohyoumontsumagurohyoumonakatatehaakatatehabenishijimibenishijimibenishijimibenishijimimonshirochoumonkichounagasakiageha (in poor condition) - a big butterfly (12cm wingspan)tsubameshijimi