Friday, August 10, 2012

Beetle Mania

Today I'm writing you about The Beetles in Japan. No no not the band the beetles but actual beetles and the popularity of keeping them as pets.  The Kabutomushi also known as Trypoxylus Dichotomus is many boys' and even some girls' pets.  These critters are so popular that Japan even has a Holiday for them in some parts of Japan.  Also they often appear in advertising as cute little cartoons, just as a bear, mouse, cat or dog would in the USA.  In the USA you might see a kids TV show with robot space dinosaurs.  It is the same in Japan except they are robot space beetles.

In the spring, bug nets, bug tanks, mulch, food, and bate appear for sale, and kids all around Japan buy into bug hunting. You could just be a geeky boy or girl who is interested in catching a bug to observe, but for most boys the motivation for catching these critters is for battle. The Kabutomushi is able to lift hundreds of times it's own body weight, and it's shell is very hard.  Kids love to battle these bugs. Kids think it is so much fun and looks cool, one beetle lifting another above its head and tossing it down to its defeat.  Many Japanese mothers protest this and forbid their boys from participating.  I believe it isn't cruel to the animal. They aren't pinching each other to death. In the whild they do this fighting over a mate. Up in the tree tops if you can toss all the other males to the ground, you win.  Their pincers don't squeeze the live out of each other and the hard shell protects them. Plus the lifespan of the beetle in the while and in captivity is only a few months. They are more likely to die from you not feeding them properly than in battle.  So am I pro beetle fighting? You bet I am.  It is a good competitive active activity for young boys.  If they are out catching bugs and battling their friends, it means they aren't sipping soda in front of the TV.
Sadly I live pretty much in the city and these bugs like to keep far away from urban areas.  Luckily for me, these guys are so popular I can buy them in most pet stores in the city, or order them online. they go for about $5 a bug. I bought four just in case one or 2 died. I've named them John, Paul, George, and Ringo.  So why would I buy them?  I didn't buy them to make them fight.  My purpose for buying them is to photograph them.  As all of my USA readers know, we don't have this kind of bug where I live. 

Believe it or not they are really good models.  most of the time they have no desire to go anywhere. (pretty lazy bugs)  The just sit where I put them.  if they try to move they can't get traction on the paper i set them on so they still don't go anywhere.  Note, they can fly, but mime have yet to try. I think you would agree they look pretty cool  photographed on the endless white background.  Today I plan to shoot them with my large format camera.

In the next day or two I will let them go in the wild.  I'm sure customs won't let me bring them home alive and it would just be a pain to try packing them.  They belong in Japan. They were fun to shoot, watch, and play with.

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