Tag Archives: insects

Wildflowers and Insects

Here in Shiga Prefecture some wildflowers continue to bloom well into November. They attract a variety of flying insects, including butterflies, moths, bees, hoverflies, and wasps.

On November 3, 2018, quite a few insects were feeding along an irrigation canal near rice and soybean fields near my home.

Common grass yellow butterfly (Eurema hecabe hecabe, キチョウ) on Allium pseudojaponicum (タマムラサキ)
Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) on a dandelion flower
Beet webworm moth (Spoladea recurvalis, シロオビノメイガ
Giant hoverfly (Phytomia zonata, オオハナアブ
Small branded swift butterfly (Pelopidas mathias, チャバネセセリ

Few insects visit tiny flowers such as henbit dead-nettle (ホトケノザ).

Henbit dead-nettle (Lamium amplexicaule, ホトケノザ) flower

Tall goldenrod (セイタカアワダチソウ) grows beside fields and along rivers and ponds. Many species of insects can be seen on goldenrod flowers.

Goldenrod flowers (セイタカアワダチソウ) in Tsuji, Ritto City
Goldenrod and other weeds along Yasugawa near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City

On November 5th, 6th, and 8th, I saw insects on tall goldenrod near the irrigation canal in Tsuji, the riverbank near the tennis courts in Yasugawa Athletic Park (野洲川運動公園), and along Oyamakawa (大山川) in Yasu City.

Harmonia axyridis (ナミテントウ, Asian lady beetle) in Tsuji, Ritto City. This ladybird has many color patterns and many English names.
Harmonia axyridis (ナミテントウ, Asian lady beetle) in Tsuji, Ritto City. This ladybird has many color patterns and many English names.
Japanese honeybee (Apis cerana japonica, ニホンミツバチ)
Female Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン)
Female Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) on goldenrod along Oyamakawa in Kitazakura, Yasu City
Male Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City
Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

On November 16th a potter wasp was on tall goldenrod at the reservior near Ono Ramp in Ritto City.

Potter wasp on goldenrod flowers at the reservoir near Ono Ramp (小野ランプ) in Ritto City

Other flowering weeds compete with tall goldenrod. Bidens pilosa (beggar’s tick, コセンダングサ) yellow disc florets continue to attract bees and other small butterflies after the white ray florets fall off.

Japanese honeybee (Apis cerana japonica, ニホンミツバチ)
Long-tailed blue butterfly (Lampides boeticus, ウラナミシジミ

Bidens pilosa fruits come off easily and attach themselves to clothing.

Bidens pilosa (beggar’s tick, コセンダングサ) weed along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

Other flowers have continued to bloom and attract insects in November.

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) along the road behind Sakura Ryokuchi in Minamizakura, Yasu City
Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) in Kitazakura, Yasu City
Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) in Kitazakura, Yasu City

After mid-November larger insects such as butterflies are becoming rare.

Small branded swift butterfly (Pelopidas mathias, チャバネセセリ) on a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, セイヨウタンポポ) in Hayashi, Ritto City


End of Summer

The last days of summer 2018 in Shiga Prefecture have been mostly cloudy, with quite a bit of rain and very little sunshine. Whenever it was not raining too hard, I went out with a camera most days September 11-19, 2018.

September 11 – insects in a garden, Yasugawa, nearby fields

Physostegia virginiana flowers (obedience, ハナトラノオ) in a neighbor’s garden attract many butterflies, moths, bees, and other insects.

Yasugawa has been running high but not at flood levels.

Late in the afternoon local farmers were hurrying to harvest their rice before rain the following day.

September 14 – Takano

As soon as the rain stopped in mid afternoon, I walked to Takano Park, just a few minutes from my house. Along the way neighbors’ flowers caught my attention.

In Takano Park a few small creatures appeared after the rain.

September 15 – Yasugawa riverbank, fields in Deba

Scilla scilloides flowers(Barnardia japonica, ツルボ) have begun to bloom along the Yasugawa riverbank. Other flowers grow nearby.

Great egrets and grey herons hunt for fish nearby in the river. Most days a few of these large birds can be seen in nearby fields.

September 16 – Yasugawa riverbank

In late afternoon I was able to take only a few photos along the river before I got rained out.

September 17 – Mizunomori Aquatic Botanical Garden

Kusatsu City Mizunomori Aquatic Botanical Garden (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森) is one of my favorite places. It’s a short drive from my home and usually not too crowded.

On September 17th a large display of Canna flowers stood near the entrance in front of the fountain.

A large number of water lilies are in ponds,

an outdoor tank,

and the Atrium.

Quite a few flowers were blooming in various outdoor locations.

Giant Hibiscus ‘titanbicus’ were blooming near the entrance.

September 18 – Yasu City

The sun appeared now and then as I rode my mountain bike across the river to Yasu City and up Oyamakawa to Sakura Ryokuchi Park. Along the way I stopped to photograph red spider lilies along rice paddies.

September 19 – Rokujizo and Misono

Sunshine! I rode my mountain bike south from my home in Ritto City, first nearby to Rokujizo, where we can see several varieties of flowers in the neighborhood and along Hayamagawa.

Up the valley in Misono red spider lilies bloom along the terraced fields.

In Kamitoyama I saw some globe amaranth flowers in a small garden. As I was admiring the flowers, a painted lady butterfly appeared.

I often see a grey heron at Konzegawa in Misono on my way home. The bird ignores me when I pass along the bike path. If I stop nearby, it flies.

In late summer and early fall rural Japan changes dramatically. Various flowers bloom, colorful butterflies and moths become very active when the weather permits, and fields become empty as farmers harvest their rice. Sometimes it seems gloomy, but even when the sky is dark, there is always something to see if we take time to look closely.

Sounds of cicadas at the end of summer

Along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, cicadas dominate the soundscape in summer. In mid-September, before autumnal equinox, smaller insects join the chorus.

On 2017-09-15 the cicadas were very loud as I rode my mountain bike on a path through a grove of ornamental cherry trees between a small river and a residential neighborhood (radio aporee ::: maps – Omifuji, Yasu-shi, Shiga-ken, Japan).

Araya Muddy Fox mountain bike

Araya Muddy Fox mountain bike near the path along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City.

Audio recorder and microphones

Audio recorder and microphones on a cherry tree in the woods along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

A little before 13:00 I mounted a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and FEL Clippy EM172 mics on a tree trunk for quasi-binaural recording. The mics face northwest toward a busy two-lane road, Japan national route 8, with the river and farms to the right and a residential neighborhood to the left.

Audio recorder and microphones

Audio recorder and microphones on a cherry tree in the woods along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

We can hear cars, trucks, agricultural machinery (rice harvester), and other human sounds, but the cicadas compete well and nearly drown out the songs of smaller insects. Soon the cicadas will fall silent, and we’ll wonder how another summer passed so quickly.

Red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花)

Red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Mikami, Yasu City, Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background.

Videos of small creatures with a compact camera

At the beginning of summer, 2017, I bought a little Panasonc LUMIX DMC-LX9 compact digital camera. This model has a flip-up LCD screen and enables extreme closeups with a large aperture and a wide-angle view. I have using it mostly for general photography, especially while cycling. As I had hoped when I bought it, works very well for closeup shots of small creatures.

Caterpillar in Hayashi

Closeup of a caterpillar on a sidewalk along a country road in Hayashi, Ritto City (map). Video was shot just before sunset on 6 July 2017. Music: “Before Dawn” by Jason Shaw at AudionatiX Music License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-A) 3.0

Inchworm along a forest road

Closeup of an inchworm at a bridge on a forest forest road in Bodaiji, Konan City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (map). Video was shot while mountain biking on 15 July 2017.

Shield bug (stinkbug)

Finally, an unpublished clip of a shield bug (カメムシ, 亀虫) at Kashiho Shrine (上葦穂神社) in Kojibukuro, Konan City (map). I discovered the shrine while I was cycling. As was leaving, I noticed this bug in the grass beside the parking lot. I followed it until it flew away. Later I trimmed heavily to remove most of the scene that was out of focus.

Technical notes

This little camera seems to work very well for closeup video of small creatures. To do extreme closeups I zoom out to the widest angle (30mm full-frame equivalent). Depending on the background, I set the aperture somewhere between f5.6 and f1.4. For small insects I must get very close. In fact, the inchworm in the video above actually hit the lens! This camera will not work well with small creatures that are shy. For shy creatures such as butterflies we can get better results with a close focus telephoto lens on a mirrorless or DSLR camera.

I have not done any color grading because I like the natural colors of the raw clips from the camera. I do all post-processing with free/libre and open-source software (FLOSS) on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. I trim some clips with FFmpeg and edit with Kdenlive. I use the video editor to trim and join clips and to add titles and sound (music for the caterpillar video).

This little camera has features that I have not yet exploited. I have been shooting full HD (1920×1080) in aperture priority mode and continuous focus tracking. In the future I may shoot 4K video and try various settings; however, my present point-and-shoot style seems to work well. I have to hold the camera very close the the ground, which become difficult, so I may add a bracket or a cage to hold the camera. For more sophisticated editing and color grading I can use professional software such as Da Vinci Resolve by Blackmagic Design.

Early Autumn Insects

We tend to associate insects with late Spring and Summer, but quite a few butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects can be seen here in Shiga Prefecture from late September until early November.

Several species of butterflies and moths were very active in late September and early October. A few remained until late October.

Asian swallowtail butterfly (アゲハ) on a red spider lily (彼岸花)

Old World swallowtail butterfly (キアゲハ)

Humingbird hawk moth (ホシホウジャク)

Common grass yellow butterfly (キチョウ)

Common grass butterfly larva (キチョウの幼虫)

Oriental short-tailed blue butterfly (タイワンツバメシジミ)

Oriental short-tailed blue butterfly (タイワンツバメシジミ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (モンキチョウ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (モンキチョウ)

Chinese peacock black swallowtail butterfly (カラスアゲハ)

Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン)

A few Dragonlies were still here in October.

Meadowhawk [Darter] dragonfly (Sympetrum darwinianum, ナツアカネ)

Female white-tailed skimmer dragonfly (Orthetrum albistylum, ムギワラトンボ)

Female white-tailed skimmer dragonfly (Orthetrum albistylum, ムギワラトンボ)

In October locusts and other insects were active along the Yasugawa riverbank.

Migratory locusts (トノサマバッタ)

Tropidothorax sinensis (ヒメジュウジナガカメムシ)

Bee and grub on goldenrod (セイタカアワダチソウ)

Sorry this post appears so late!