If you have raised kids in Japan you know summer equals watermelon, water play, summer festivals, and Japanese beetles. Kabutomushi and Kuwagatamushi hatch in early summer and can be found in the wild or at your local home center (D2, Super Viva or Cainz). My kids have all enjoyed raising the beetles from larva to beetle, and spending the summer feeding the beetles fresh fruit and jellies. A great experience for kids if you will be in Japan for the summer, or longer. ** Please note if you are raising a beetle, please do not release them into the wild. Pass them on to another family who may enjoy.
Japanese Beetles – Japan Summer Fun with Kabuto and Kuwagata Mushi
What is a Kabutomushi and Kuwahatamushi?
A Kabutomushi is Japanese for a rhinoceros beetles (かぶとむし, or in Kanji 甲虫). Kabuto means samuri helmet and mushi is bug or insect. Kabutomsuhi live for approximately 12 months; 8-10 months as a larva and then 2-4 months as a beetle. Usually the larva grow during the fall and winter months and hatch to beetles in late Spring.
A Kawagatamsuhi is Japanese for a stag beetle. Stag beetles are called this due to the shape of their horns looking like stag horns – the males have the long pinchers, females are much shorter. Stag beetles have pinchers that can pinch and they also can fly better than Kabutomushi. The life span of a Kabutomushi is also longer since it can hibernate as a beetle in the cooler months. They may live as long as three years.
In the summer months, you can buy a beetle for 400-2,000 yen on most local pet stores, home centers or garden centers. Larva can be purchased in the early spring months. If you buy a larva, just let it be in the bedding until it hatches in early summer. Beetles can fight and kill each other. To reduce this risk it is best to get a male and female if you are housing two, or keep separate.
If you have a male and a female you may be lucky to have them produce offspring which will be larva in the late fall. Just let them grow in the bedding until they change to beetles next summer. Do not let the temperature drop to under 20 c during the winter or the larva may die. Best place to keep the cage in in the kitchen which is typically the warmest room.
How to raise and take care of a Japanese Beetle.
Taking care of a larva and then the beetle is pretty low maintenance so it is a good 1st pet for young children. You will need to prepare the following items before you bring your beetle home.
A cage to raise and hold your larva and beetle – Usually plastic with air vents and a plastic handle. When housing the larva or beetle it is best to keep it in a shaded area and between the temperature of 20-26 degrees celsius (68-78 Fahrenheit). Here are some cases for sale on Amazon.co.jp
Kabuto or Kawagata Mat for cage – Fill the cage about 1/3 up with the mat for the larva and beetle to live comfortably. You need to keep the bedding moist on top. Use a spray bottle to do this every few days. Don’t make too wet or mold will grow. Replace the case filling once a week. If the larva is liberating/growing you do not need to replace the bedding. But spray once a week or as needed to keep the upper layer moist. 5L bags of mat cost between 400-600 yen.
Food for Kabutomushi and Kuwahatamushi is the same – cut-up fruit (banana and apples are favorites) or jelly cups made especially for beetles. If you are going to feed the beetles jellies I recommendd you buy a jelly holder so the jelly does not get all dirty flipping around the cage. Your beetle will need to be feed once a day. Remove decaying fruits or jellies.
Branches or leaves that the beetles can climb and hide under. Just gather some at your local park.
Here is a great starter kit available on amazon for about 1,500 yen.
**********************************************************Japanese Beetles – Japan Summer Fun with Kabuto and Kuwagata Mushi
Great Japanese Beetle Items – If you kid is Bug Crazy
If you have a Japanese reading child who loves Kabuto or Kuwahata mushi they will enjoy this set of five books. A good reading level for 2-6th grade. Available on Amazon Japan for about 5,000 yen for the set of five. Click here.
If you are not ready to raise a live Beetle thank have fun with as set of beetle figures that kids will love. Most sets include 5-12 bugs and run 1,000 -2,000 yen.
A very cool 1,000 piece puzzle all about Beetles. About 3,000 yen on Amazon.co.jp
Japanese Beetles – Japan Summer Fun with Kabutomushi and Kuwagatamushi