Jeweled Web 

On a misty autumn morning, spider webs are bejeweled with dew. There are many spiders that build large webs here, so the effect is quite spectacular.

The large, colorful spider makes a nice backdrop for the web; equally, the web makes a striking backdrop for the spider.

Even the spider's legs glitter with dewdrops.

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On beautiful early autumn days like today, the dragonflies come out in swarms. Akatonbo is the generic name for any red-bodied dragonfly.

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Summer Caterpillar 

Battari-mura was full of these caterpillars when we were there in July.

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Itsy Bitsy Spider 

I found this tiny little spider hiding in a downspout at Chusonji

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Autumn Insects 

Of course there are plenty of bugs to go along with all the autumn flowers, and it's hard to photograph flowers without getting a few insects as well.

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Demon Moths of Kitakami 

Some of the successful spiders here — outdoor ones, that is — have grown quite large. And the largest ones are the ones that have built webs on street lights, which attract bugs by the swarm.

Last week, while walking the dogs at night, we saw something quite large hanging from a web on a streetlight. It looked for all the world like a moth, but it was way too big to be one. Even if there was a moth that big, there's no way a spider's web would trap it. It had to be a bit of insulation or something.

A few nights later, it was gone. But something was fluttering in the light. We could see it easily from 100 yards away. Was it a bat? A small bird? No, the movement wasn't right. It was very fluttery and quick. As we got closer, we could see its wings going very, very fast. It was moving too much to tell for sure, but it really seemed like a moth the size of a baseball.

Later, we discovered one that had landed, so we could get a good look and photos.

Here's another look, along with Stefanie's hand to give a sense of the scale.

I hope these things never start eating my suits!

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I've remarked before on how close we feel to nature here. In Kitakami, you're never far from a river or park or rice paddy or other place that is just humming with non-human life, such as these black-winged dragonflies that have been decorating the riverside park all summer.

And yet, even with all this life, there's something missing. There are birds and insects and spiders and fish and even snakes — but no wild animals. In Maryland, our neighborhood was full of squirrels, and we saw plenty of rabbits plus the occasional opossum, fox, or deer. Mice, rats, and raccoons could appear as well. Here, the only mammals we've seen in our neighborhood are domesticated cats and dogs.

Okay, I actually have seen two wild animals here. Once, on the other side of the river, I saw a rabbit. The second animal we saw was probably a raccoon dog, but we only caught a glimpse as it dashed across the road ahead of us on our way back from Miyagi — and that doesn't really count because weren't in a town. Two in five months doesn't seem like much.

There are plenty of wild animals in Japan, and you can find a lot of evidence if you head for the mountains to go hiking. There just aren't any in town, and that seems odd with all the nature that is in town.
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Spider in the Morning 

Our previous spider has moved on, and this one came to replace it. We discovered it in the morning, which is a bit more auspicious. (Later, I saw it again at night. This spider seems to offer 24-hour service.)

Its web is really quite distinctive, too - the center is kind of fluffy, with a vertical "ladder" of thick webbing extending above and below it.

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Spider at Night 

In Japan, it is considered good luck to see a spider in the morning, and bad luck to see one at night. Alas, there seem to be many spiders around our house that come out only at night! Almost every window has one of these guys there to catch any small insects attracted by our lights.

He (she?) wouldn't sit still to be measured, but I estimate it's about 2cm (3/4 inch) across, including the legs.

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