Asia Insecta

An exhibition of photography by Nathan Vedal, Ph.D. ‘17

Insects have long played an important role in the cultural and literary history of East Asia. A frequently cited Chinese anecdote from the fifth century tells of a poor scholar who read books by the light of fireflies because he could not afford oil for a lamp. In late imperial times, katydids were common pets in literati households; they are also present on the Jadeite Cabbage, one of the prize pieces in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. In Edo Japan, insects could be found depicted in the painting of masters such as Mori Shunkei and Hokusai.

Today insects maintain a unique prominence in Asian society. Stag beetles, such as the nokogiri kuwagata pictured in this exhibit, are popular pets in Japan, with shops in Tokyo specializing in their care. The centuries-old art of cricket fighting is still practiced in old streets of Beijing, while a spider-fighting competition has been held in Kagoshima for nearly 30 years. Organized excursions to view fireflies are commonly advertised throughout Taiwan and Japan, and a surge of interest in insect-viewing has led to the recent opening in Beijing of Asia’s largest butterfly garden.

East Asia is also home to a phenomenal diversity of insect species. Its varied ecosystems and climates, in addition to substantial environmental protection efforts, make the region an entomologist’s paradise. Nevertheless, there exist many threatened species of insect, the continued survival of which is precarious. It is hoped that photographic records such as this can help preserve the memory for future generations of this precious moment of biodiversity.

The photographer, Nathan Vedal, is a recent PhD graduate from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. During the 2016-17 academic year, he was a Graduate Student Associate at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Nathan captured these photographs while conducting research in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan using a Nikon DSLR camera with Sigma macro lens.

This exhibit is sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.
 

Click on image to enlarge photo.
Ladybird (Epilachna sp.) Ladybird (Epilachna sp.)
テントウムシ
Mount Daimonji, Kyoto
大文字山,京都
 June 2016

Scarab Beetle (Scarabaeidae)

Scarab Beetle (Scarabaeidae)
金龜子
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016


Leaf Beetle (Agetocera discedens)


Leaf Beetle (Agetocera discedens)
大琉璃金花蟲
Found commonly at medium altitudes, this leaf beetle is endemic to Taiwan.
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016

Golden-Spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela aurulenta)

Golden-Spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela aurulenta)
金斑虎甲
 Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, Hong Kong
大埔滘自然護理區,香港
 May 2016

Shining Leaf Chafer (Mimela splendens)

Shining Leaf Chafer (Mimela splendens)
豔金龜
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016

Rainbow Sheath Click Beetle (Campsosternus watanabei)

Rainbow Sheath Click Beetle (Campsosternus watanabei)
虹彩叩頭蟲
Legally protected in Taiwan, this threatened jewel beetle has been overcollected on account of its beautiful iridescent carapace.
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016

Dung Beetle (Paragymnopleurus sp.)

Dung Beetle (Paragymnopleurus sp.)
推糞金龜
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016

Datun Mountain Stag Beetle (Lucanus datunensis)

Datun Mountain Stag Beetle (Lucanus datunensis)
大屯深山鍬形蟲
Endemic to Taiwan, this threatened species exists only on the peak of Mount Datun in the Yangmingshan National Park.
Mount Datun, Taiwan
大屯山,陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016

Soldier Beetle (Themus purpuratus)

Soldier Beetle (Themus purpuratus)
紫翅麗菊虎
Seen here feeding on flower pollen, this soldier beetle is endemic to Taiwan.
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
 May 2016

Stag beetle (Prosopocoilus inclinatus)

Stag beetle (Prosopocoilus inclinatus)
ノコギリクワガタ
Institute for Nature Education Park, Tokyo
国立科学博物館 附属自然教育園,東京
June 2016

Katydid (Tettigoniidae)

Katydid (Tettigoniidae)
螽蟴
Lijia Forest Trail, Taiwan
利嘉林道,台灣
May 2016

A cicada (Cicadoidea) freshly emerged from its larval exoskeleton

A cicada (Cicadoidea) freshly emerged from its larval exoskeleton
剛剛羽化的蟬
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016

Praying mantis nymph

Praying mantis nymph
カマキリの幼虫
Institute for Nature Education Park, Tokyo
国立科学博物館 附属自然教育園,東京
 June 2016

Harvestman (Opiliones) with parasitic red mites

Harvestman (Opiliones) with parasitic red mites
紅色的蟎蟲寄生在盲蛛身上
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016

Caterpillar of Tailed Jay Butterfly (Graphium agamemnon)

Caterpillar of Tailed Jay Butterfly (Graphium agamemnon)
綠斑鳳蝶的幼蟲
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
陽明山國家公園,台灣
May 2016