When I moved to Japan I was honestly shocked by how big the insects were. While the scariest insect I’d seen in my 20+ years living in the UK was the almost-endearingly pathetic daddy long-legs, basically every spider I saw around Nagoya was at least double the size, and carried itself with the air of an aggressive nightclub punter just daring you to bump into them and spill their drink.
Similarly, whereas in the UK you’ll only really get cockroaches in particularly filthy places (e.g. 97%+ of all student flats), cockroaches in Japan are just seen as basic, unavoidable facts of life – like taxes and rampant sexual harassment on public transport. I quickly learned I wasn’t even safe living on the 7th floor, as cockroaches here can fly, apparently.
I thought I’d seen it all. I was wrong. After we moved from the big city of Nagoya to the tiny, middle-of-the-countryside Nagiso, I finally learned how
bad absolutely cool and hardcore Japanese insects can get.
So, while I’ve already written a post introducing some of Nagiso’s worst insects, I kept seeing so many new types of Heavy Metal bugs that I knew a second list was necessary. The insects here are all much less upsetting than the Giant Hate Spider and One Thousand Legs Centipede from my previous post, but I think you’ll agree they’re all worth a gander:
The Praying Mantis. The African Mantis. The Mantis Shrimp.
It’s widely acknowledged that mantises of all kinds are extremely good and cool, and this palm-sized specimen is no different (even if it did try its best to stop me from opening my front door, and gave me a really unnerving look after I gently sent it on its way).
Now we move on to the genuinely upsetting stuff. This worthless bastard showed up outside my house one day and refused to leave.
I have no idea what it is, and I hope to never find out.
The bottom line is that this insect is bigger than an insect has any right to be, and in my eyes it’s a direct affront to god. I will never forgive it for existing.
The one. The only. The original Scary Japanese Bug – it is, of course, the mukade. Famous for its painful sting, and for its love of coming into my house specifically, the mukade is a menace found in all parts of rural Japan.
Interesting fact (/unverified rumour): if you find a mukade in your house you’re not supposed to squash it, as it’ll release a special kind of chemical that summons any other mukade in the local area to come and avenge it. As such, locals will pick them up with a pair of chopsticks(!!) and boil them alive on the hob. Sad, but considering mukade like to drop down on you from the ceiling while you’re asleep I’d say no punishment is harsh enough.
Here’s another one where I just have absolutely no idea what it is. What I do know, however, is that it’s both cute and vaguely uncanny – an unqualified win in my book.
Despite appearances, this little guy can’t actually float – it’s just standing on my car’s windshield. Take a closer look at those menacing little knife-teeth, though, as well as its deeply alien antenna.
While my every summer day in Nagoya was accompanied by a soundtrack of thousands upon thousands of screeching cicadas, I was surprised to hear almost none here in Nagiso. My guess is that all the other insects gang up on them, or eat them, or something.
Pretty hardcore at the best of times, their process of ecdysis (i.e. insect moulting) really takes the cake. What’s more heavy metal than bursting out of your skin, and leaving it hanging there as a disgusting effigy for weeks to come. Nothing, that’s what.
I cannot explain to you just how much I love this little scamp.
Cute as a button, and three times as small. There’s a high possibility that this is some kind of bone-burrowing/brain-devouring tick, and that, as a result, my house should be condemned and bulldozed ASAP. But even if that ends up being the case, I’ll find it extremely hard to stay mad at this little guy.
Moth? …Moth? This may well be a moth.
I really can’t emphasise enough how little I know about insects.
Regardless, this cloudy-eyed, impressively hairy, quite possibly already dead little insect is a winner in my books.
You never really think of dragonflies as hardcore, but just look at it – if those magnificent wings and iridescent armour plates aren’t hardcore then I don’t know what is.
Would it surprise you to learn that I don’t know what this insect is? I assume it’s one of those beetles they have nowadays.
When I saw it, it was moving slow and steady, with a palpable sense of determination towards its goal. As such, I’m confident that this plucky insect eventually found its way to the top of the random bit of stick it was climbing.
I saved my favourite for last. Just look at this one. Just look at it. It’s so weird and fuzzy, with a pattern like a grandparent’s settee, or a seat on the London Underground.
I’ve only ever seen one of these, and I’m pretty sure that if one landed on me I’d never stop screaming. But just look at it. Look at those giant antenna. 10/10, absolute hall-of-famer right here.
I feel bad for putting you through this post. I know some of you are only here for the weird bugs, and others will have read the title and immediately closed your browser. But some of you seem to absolutely hate bugs, while simultaneously forcing yourself to read through each entirely-bug-focused blog post right to the end.
So as a reward, have a picture of this frog. He’s genuinely smaller than my thumb. He looks like he’s casually smiling to himself, as if you’ve just reminded him of a pleasant anecdote you’ll never be party to. A private joke, if you will.
And he’ll be there for you whenever you need it – just waiting right here, on this page, for you: