Jul 6, 2018
I don't think I noticed them while riding through the rice fields in Saitama Prefecture, but I notice them every year here in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Can you see the pink / red-orange spot on these rice plant babies?
They kind of look like raspberries from a distance, and I see them on rice plants or on the side of canal or rice field walls during the rainy season.
I thought they were frog eggs. Today I had a strange memory of going on fishing trips with my family as a kid and using something pink-orange as bait that looked sort of like that. It was salmon eggs though, and these are definitely not salmon eggs.
I looked up frog eggs, but all of the images I found and articles I saw said frog eggs are laid in a chain, not in a cluster, and they are white or transparent. Not frog eggs.
So what are they then?
For a minute I thought they were cricket eggs or tadpole shrimp eggs, but that wasn't right either.
They're the eggs of the 'golden apple snail,' surprisingly.
They're a type of snail from South America introduced to Japan as a potential food. It turns out they ended up becoming rice farming pests instead. The snails eat the young rice plants and can take out half a field overnight. They can't get through the leaves once the plants are mature enough.
There is a series of steps rice farmers have to go through to try to keep the number of snails down. The way the rice is planted as a young plant rather than as a seed, the level of water, the speed in planting after filling the fields with water, are all part of the prevention strategy. You might see ducks in rice fields sometimes, and that's because they love to eat snails and slugs. It all makes sense now.
Can you see these snail eggs where you live too? Did you know what they were?