“There’s a mosquito in the room” says T, throwing me an accusing look. (If she gets bitten it’s generally my fault in some way.) It’s true that the humid Japanese Spring and Summer seems ideal for insects, and there are some biters and stingers among them. For example:
- mosquitoes The city ones come out at the end of May or so and they’re small, fast and hard to squash. The itch only lasts an hour or so, but they can certainly get to you, and our lush jungly garden in front of Raffles has a fair supply. Mosquito coils help, and there’s some stuff in a spray can which doesn’t do a bad job of keeping them away for a while.
- buyo These are a small black fly – looks almost like a tiny beetle – and are nasty. They hang about in the grass by a stream in the countryside on a muggy , overcast day and draw blood. Really. Much worse than mosquitoes in spite of their tiny size, and the bite stays with you for a week or so. Fortunately I’ve never seen one in Nagoya.
- dani or mites, live in the tatami mats and bite you when you’re asleep. Just have to fumigate the tatami sometimes, or lift it out of the room to dry in the hot Summer sun. (This is such a pain no-one does it these days.)
- nasty green caterpillars I don’t know the proper name for these, but you see them on trees sometimes. (One year they chewed all the leaves off our persimmon tree.) They’re a nasty yellow-green colour, have no legs and move about like slugs, and are covered with hairy spines. If you touch one the microscopic spine will stick in your skin, which will swell up for days and itch horribly. Imagine a poisonous cactus…
- centipedes: fortunately not so common – they live in rotting wood and the like – but the big ones can give you a very nasty bite indeed.
- There’s more – jellyfish, adders, poisonous lacquer plants, the deadly Okinawan “habu” …
but I’ve probably put you right off ever coming here. If you actually live here of course you know it’s not really that bad. Still the insecticide and itch ointment makers probably do OK at this time of year.