Paper Wasp Nest

We found this beautiful wasps’ nest this morning – in someone’s garden hedge. The kids thought the caps on the cells looked like tiny tennis balls. These are paper wasps (ashinaga-bachi) and they feed their young on chewed-up (= masticated) insects, especially caterpillars, so they are useful to have in the garden. I’ve also read that the wasp grubs produce a nutrient secretion which the adults feed on. Symbiosis between generations!

More information about paper wasps here at Wikipedia.

Polistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyiPolistes rothneyi

Hymenoptera: Vespidae
Polistes rothneyi = ki-ashinaga-bachi (yellow paper wasp)
(literal translation = yellow long-legged wasp)

Location: Yokoyama Village
Google map: here

Snorkelling with Aya

Sea near Kanezaki

Aya’s getting really confident in the sea now. We were snorkelling for an hour and a half, and we swam several hundred metres, but she was fine. The sea was full of box jellyfish (andon-kurage) so it was just as well we were wearing wet suits and rash guards. Lots of stuff to see today. Our favourite was the little squid. It rained while we were swimming; then the sun came out and we saw a rainbow.

Sea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near KanezakiSea near Kanezaki
Sea near Kanezaki

Location: Beach near Kanezaki
Google map: here

Saw Stag Beetle

Another of my finds last night under the signboard near Fukuoka University of Education. This small stag beetle is called a nokogiri-kuwagata, where nokogiri is the name of a traditional Japanese saw (for cutting wood), and kuwagata means stag beetle. This species shows a lot of variety in size and mandible shape. Because this male was pretty small, its mandibles were quite straight and with only small teeth, whereas a bigger individual would have curving mandibles with some larger protrusions. Here’s a picture showing the variety.

Prosopocoilus inclinatusProsopocoilus inclinatusProsopocoilus inclinatusProsopocoilus inclinatus

Coleoptera: Lucanidae
Prosopocoilus inclinatus = nokogiri-kuwagata (saw stag beetle)

Centipede with prey

I was looking for moths under a lighted signboard when I spotted this big centipede (mukade) sucking the life out of a small moth. It seemed like I had just missed the moment of capture. I would have liked to watch how the centipede sneaked up on its prey.

Centipede with preyCentipede with preyCentipede with prey

Phylum: Arthropoda; Subphylum: Myriapoda; Class: Chilopoda
Scolopendra subspinipes = tobi-mukade (large centipede)

Location: Signboard near Fukuoka University of Education

Epicopeia hainesii

It was great to find this ageha-modoki moth last night. It was in amongst the vegetation under a lighted signboard next to a major highway (Route 3) in Munakata.
This species of moth is an amazing mimic, looking almost exactly like a black swallowtail butterfly (ageha). Apparently the butterfly is foul-tasting so the moth’s defence against being eaten is to look like the butterfly. Does that mean the moth tastes better than the butterfly? Anyone want to try?

(Edited 21st April, 2008) The swallowtail butterfly that this moth mimics can be seen here: Both the moth and butterfly are foul-tasting (not that I’ve tried) and so they both benefit each other by looking alike. This form of mimicry is called Mullerian Mimicry (Wikipedia article here).

Epicopeia hainesiiEpicopeia hainesiiEpicopeia hainesiiEpicopeia hainesii

Lepidoptera: Epicopeiidae
Epicopeia hainesii hainesii = ageha-modoki (“butterfly-look-a-like” moth)

Location: Signboard near Fukuoka University of Education.
Google map: here

Cyrestis thyodamas mabella

This species of butterfly often rests underneath leaves in the shade, so it’s sometimes difficult to spot. Beautiful marbled patterning on the wings.

Cyrestis thyodamas mabellaCyrestis thyodamas mabellaCyrestis thyodamas mabellaCyrestis thyodamas mabellaCyrestis thyodamas mabellaCyrestis thyodamas mabella

Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae
Cyrestis thyodamas mabella

path towards orchards

Location: path near orchards above Ikeda Village (map)

Yokoyama Village

No fantastic photos today… Just had a nice time walking through Yokoyama Village and up past a small lake then into the forest on the mountainside. From our home it only takes 5 minutes on foot to get to the start of this walk, so we should go there more often. I went during the winter, but I’d forgotten about it so today was the first time this summer. I thought I should write a blog entry about the walk so as to remind me what a special place is on our doorstep!

The aerial photo (adapted from google maps) shows the route. I decided to rename the pond “Kingfisher Pond” because there was a beautiful little kingfisher there today and I was lucky enough to watch him fly just above the surface of the water all the way across the pond. Twice. I often see kingfishers when I’m walking alongside the local streams, but this was the first time I’d watched one fly right across a large pond. Stunning sight, but rubbish photo I’m afraid!

Sitting on the dam was wonderful – mountain view, the kingfisher, lots of dragonflies, and swifts smacking into the water to catch insects (or maybe to cool down!). I’m sorry that the photos didn’t come out so well, but I hope it’s easy to understand what a great location this is.

YokoyamaYokoyama VillageKingfisher Pondswiftswiftdragonflieskingfisherfish in the pond

Large Hawk Moth

I found this large hawkmoth near the ramen restaurant signboard. It’s wingspan is more than 10cm, making it one of Japan’s biggest hawkmoths.

Psilogramma incretumPsilogramma incretumPsilogramma incretum

Lepidoptera: Sphingidae
Psilogramma incretum = shimofuri-suzume

Location: Signboard near Fukuoka University of Education (google map link)

Japanese Oak Silkmoth

Driving home from the cinema last night, I stopped to see what I could find on/around one of the most attractive (to moths!) signboards in the area. It’s a sign advertising a ramen noodle restaurant and it’s very near Fukuoka University of Education (see aerial photo here).

There were lots of small moths all over the board plus several hawkmoths in the vegetation nearby, but the moth that made my evening was this one, a huge Japanese Oak Silkmoth (yamamayu). With a wingspan of around 13cm, it’s one of the biggest moths in Japan. Unfortunately this specimen had seen better days and was somewhat tatty, but it was still a beautiful insect!

signboard near FUEAntheraea yamamaiAntheraea yamamaiAntheraea yamamaiAntheraea yamamaiAntheraea yamamai

Lepidoptera: Saturniidae
Antheraea yamamai yamamai = yamamayu (Japanese Oak Silkmoth)

Location: Signboard near Fukuoka University of Education (google map link)