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Imported beetles concern Okinawa environmentalists

Date Posted: 2004-12-09

More than 53 different species of beetles are being imported to Okinawa from various Far East Asian countries.

Environmentalists say the bugs are not vermins, but are typically imported as expensive pets for children. Some beetles cost ¥5,000~10,000 each. The stag beetles are imported, but often escape from families, or are released when the novelty of the bug wears off.

Once in the local environment, the beetles adapt and mix with Okinawan bugs. In the past four years, Nago has been the hub of beetles activity, with Nishihara Town and Kunigami Villages finding a lot of the Far East Asian beetles in their areas. The imports became popular after the law permitting it was adopted ten years ago.

“The insects have very high adaptability to Okinawa’s environment,” sayd Agricultural Doctor Yukio Shimoji, 40. “They immediately mix with other types of beetles and breed.” He questions, though, whether it’s right or good to change the history ofOkinawa beetles.

Okinawa beetles have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, he says, and the species has been pure. Now, they’re being mixed, and “that’s something that should not be happening.”

Ryukyu University Librarian Kenshi Sasaki says “the Okinawan beetle has different types family, depending on which island the beetles are from. But since the Far East Beetles have come in, there’s a popularity revolution coming, and children are buying beetles for pets. They keep them for a while, then let them go back to nature’s life.” He says it’s not good to keep the beetles in a cage, and that they need homes.

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