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Common Bugs in Japan and How to Get Rid of Them

Spring brings many insects out of hiding but you don’t have to live in fear. Let's learn about how to get rid of common bugs in Japan.

By 5 min read

Cherry blossoms erupting in full bloom usually signal the end of winter and the beginning of warmer weather. While this transition is beautiful, it also has an unfortunate side: the start of the long bug season. Common bugs in Japan are often associated with its more humid months in July and August. Still, some creepy crawlers make their first appearances as early as April and stick around well into the autumn.

The last thing you want to see in your new home or apartment in Japan is unwelcome guests. And, although most drugstores have remedies to get rid of the pests, we also think there’s room for co-existence (except with cockroaches).

So, we’ll introduce some insects that may be causing you trouble, especially in the spring and summer seasons, and how to manage them and when to get rid of an infestation quickly.

1. Gokiburi (Cockroaches)

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Avoid leaving dirty dishes overnight in your sink.

Gokiburi are one of the more unpleasant pests to come across in Japan. They can be especially active during the summer. Cockroaches are commonly found near garbage disposal areas, lurking in entranceways, nibbling on kitchen scraps or drinking water in your sink.

Precautions

  • Avoid leaving dirty dishes overnight in your sink, and regularly clean your kitchen floors and surfaces.
  • Wear gloves when removing dead cockroaches, as their bodies carry harmful bacteria.
  • If you plan to vacuum the roach carcasses, it’s best to immediately throw away the bag or empty the canister, as the bugs may be carrying eggs that can hatch later.
  • Place poisoned bait around your home.

Lethal Removal

Non-lethal Removal

2. Dani (Dust Mites)

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This pest may reduce your home’s air quality.

Although not visible to the naked eye, this pest may reduce your home’s air quality. Dust mites enjoy warm temperatures (between 25-30 ℃) and high humidity (around 60-70%), so expect that as temperatures increase, so will their growth numbers. They are particularly troublesome for people who suffer from allergies or who have asthma.

Precautions

  • Regular vacuuming of floors and carpets, and cleaning dusty areas will help reduce the amount of dust mites in your home.
  • Wash bedding frequently and place futons and pillows in the sun, as high heat and UV light can kill dust mites.

Lethal Removal

3. Jinsanshibanmushi (Drugstore Beetle)

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These beetles are often found in bags of rice or flour.

While these tiny brown bugs won’t bite you, they will eat the dry foods in your pantry. They are often found in bags of rice or flour but will eat practically any dried foodstuffs left open. They are also known to infest within and eat tatami mats, old books, dried flowers or dead plants in the house. These bugs will spread quickly and become a nuisance in your home if not dealt with.

Precautions

  • Keep dry foods like pasta, rice and flour in sealed containers.
  • Clean and vacuum your kitchen regularly and leave no crumbs behind.

Lethal Removal

4. Aburamushi (Aphids)

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Aphids are a plant lover’s nightmare.

Especially active between April to June and September to October, aburamushi or aphids are a thorn in the side of any plant lover in Japan. Usually green or black, these small wingless insects hang out on the underside of leaves. If you see one, don’t delay; they multiply extremely quickly. These bugs suck the sap out of your plants and make them more susceptible to illness by passing viruses between species.

Lethal Removal

Non-lethal Removal

  • To steer clear of chemicals, use water jets or dish soap mixed with water in a spray bottle.

5. Ageha no youchuu (Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar)

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These caterpillars are active between April and November.

The gorgeous agehachou swallowtail butterfly, which is both beautiful and a great pollinator, has one downside. Its larvae, the swallowtail caterpillar, feed voraciously on the leaves of citrus plants like mikan, lemon and kumquat trees. Active between April and November, you could find yourself with these caterpillars up to five times a year in warmer parts of Japan as the butterflies continue to lay their eggs until frost comes.

Precautions

  • Cover your citrus plants with bug-prevention nets to prevent the butterflies from laying their eggs.

Lethal removal

  • Many seasoned Japanese gardeners recommend picking them off and throwing them out.

Non-lethal removal

  • Remove them and relocate them to a nearby park.
  • Turn it into a pet and place it inside a bug case alongside some citrus leaves until the butterfly emerges.

6. Ka (Mosquitoes)

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Clean up any amount of standing water from around your home.

While ka is the general Japanese word for mosquitoes, there are two main varieties: yabuka (Asian bush mosquitoes) and akaieka (the common house mosquito). Yabuka are largely absent from cities and prefer the forests, shade and bodies of water in Central Japan.

By far, akaieka will be the mosquito pestering from Hokkaido to Okinawa. They are most active at night and love stagnant water. While they are commonly associated with the sweltering July and August heat, their mating season, akaieka have become more present in fall due to record-breaking temperatures in recent summers.

Precautions

  • Clean up standing water from around your home, no matter how little.
  • Wear light-colored and long-sleeved shirts, as mosquitoes are more attracted to dark and high-contrast clothing.
  • Use mosquito repellent inside your home and on your body before going outdoors.

Lethal removal

Which bugs in Japan have you encountered? Share your best bug stories with us below!

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