Insects and other critters in Japan

Growing up in Canada, I saw my share of little animals, but mainly in summer.  Plenty of mosquitoes, butterflies, moths, caterpillars and spiders.  But after coming to Japan, I’ve seen an incredible amount of small creatures that turned out to be not so small.  Japan has large insects.  It also has the Japanese giant centipede, or mukade, which I’ve been lucky enough to haven’t actually seen.  Before I get to the pictures, I’ll mention some of the animals I’ve seen.

Butterflies are some of the best things to see, of course.  Japan has a large number of very colourful butterflies.  They’re quite beautiful, and can be seen everywhere.  I’ve seen a remarkable iridescent blue butterfly while hiking.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of it on this computer.

I’ve also seen lizards and geckos around my old apartment.  I did get pictures of the lizard, which I blogged about previously, but the gecko was elusive, and hid between a door frame and a door.

Probably the creepiest things I’ve seen are spiders.  In Japan, it’s bad luck to kill a spider, so people just leave them alone.  They’re good for eating the insects you don’t want.  There are some small spiders that I’ve seen often that jump and move very quickly.  I’m always worried it’ll jump on me.  However, there was one spider that I saw outside that was like something out of a horror movie.  When I first saw it, I thought it was a mouse.  I took a closer look and discovered that it was an incredibly large spider, around 10 cm across!  I’ve seen this kind of spider twice, but only at night.

Less creepy, but more disgusting are the cockroaches.  Japan has large cockroaches.  The largest I’ve seen is around 3 cm long inside my apartment.  If you don’t want cockroaches, you need to get traps.  Most roaches are quite small, but the occasional large one is enough make a person paranoid.

Japan has a lot of large beetles that can usually be found in forests.  They can be up to around 6 or 7 cm in length, and are popular pets for children.  There are even beetle fighting competitions.  Some types of beetles are quite valuable, so beetle collecting is a popular hobby for children, and they can then sell them for a good amount of money.  Common types include rhinoceros beetles and stag beetles.  Last month, I saw a small stag beetle outside my apartment door.  The next time I saw it, it was hiding under my door.  When I took the dog out for a walk, I just kicked it out of the way so the dog wouldn’t try eating it.  It went into a defensive position, ready to attack, and I took a picture.

This angry stag beetle was ready to attack me if I kicked it again. Don't worry, it was unharmed.

As I said, there are a lot of butterflies in Japan, but there are also a lot of moths.  They’re not as colourful, but they can often be beautiful.  I saw this one on the wall of my apartment building.  At first, I thought the tiles were chipped, but upon closer inspection, it was a moth.

This moth wasn't doing a good job of blending in.

Last week, I saw something on the ground outside my apartment running awkwardly.  At first, I thought it was a stick insect, but when I looked closer, I discovered it was a praying mantis.  Again, I had to take a picture.  This praying mantis was standing defensively as I got closer, but it didn’t move to attack me.  It stayed very still for a few minutes.  This is the first praying mantis I’ve seen in Japan.  I was quite surprised.

At about 3 cm long, this praying mantis was no threat to me.

Japan has quite the variety of small animals, and you can find them almost anywhere.  What have you seen in Japan?



Filed under Nature

5 responses to “Insects and other critters in Japan

  1. Hawaii has some monstorous centipedes too. Got bit on the toe and my whole foot swelled up 😦

  2. We always had lots of snakes living next to Mt Kinka in Gifu, Japan.

  3. Pingback: Giant grasshoppers of Japan | Jay Dee in Japan

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