Japanese Tiger Beetle

These photos were taken a long time ago, and aren't as good as more recent photos of a tiger beetle in Indonesia or a tiger beetle in Thailand.

This little beauty is the Japanese tiger beetle, known to its friends (at least the Latin speaking ones) as Cicindela japonica.

I first came across it in the gravelled grounds of the Chion-in temple in Kyoto, Japan.

    I noticed a small fluttering, and when I came closer the beetle flew away a few feet and then landed facing me.

    Apparently, because of this behavior, the Japanese call them "michi-oshie" or "show me the way".

As you can see, it's a fearsome looking predator, equipped with a vicious set of jaws to clamp down on its victims, such as ants.

The hairy white legs are interesting, and you can even see little spines on the legs.

The other very obvious features, common to most of the many varieties of tiger beetle found around the world, are the large "bug eyes" (which is probably what you should expect from a bug).

However, it's the sheer beauty of its colors that makes this a special insect to me, with the metallic appearance extending all the way down its legs.

I suspect that most visitors to the temple didn't even notice them, even though there were quite a few around.

It's pretty small, only about an inch long, and you've got to be a little bit patient to approach them, so its beauty is easy to miss.

I saw them in Kyoto and Okinawa, and I believe they are found elsewhere as well, including China, Korea and Vietnam, as this postage stamp indicates.