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Cricket hunting season

HA TINH – In the month of September of the lunar calendar, people in Son Hong commune, Huong Son district, go to catch crickets and process them for food, or sell them for 2,000 VND each.

In the afternoon of mid-September, Mr. Ho Quang Chien, 34 years old, residing in Son Hong commune, brought two 10-liter plastic cans, shovels, and plastic bottles with holes in them. He drove a motorbike to take his friend to an empty field near the stream, about 2 miles from his house. km, to hunt crickets.

In vacant lots of thousands of square meters, hundreds of new mounds of soil emerged, signs of cricket nests. The nest is tower-shaped, with a foot diameter of about 20 cm, a height of 5 cm, a radius of 3 m appearing a nest.

Going down to the stream to fill two plastic cans with water, Chien and his friends went to find cricket nests. When he identified the nest, he used his hand to push the new layer of soil on top to see the mouth clearly, and put his index finger deep inside to see the direction. Next, he took a plastic can and poured water in until the nest was flooded.

Ho Quang Chien is digging a cricket nest. Photo: Duc Hung

Crickets can’t stand water. When the nest is flooded, it immediately grows big and crawls out of its mouth. Seeing the cricket glimmering, Mr. Chien said loudly: “Be careful”. Immediately, the companion standing next to him kicked the shovel with his foot, blocking a blow to a depth of about 30 cm to block the exit of the cricket.

Next, the man lifted his leg and pressed the handle of the shovel low to shovel the soil up. Chien, after a few seconds of observation, caught the cricket and put it in a plastic bottle. Catching a cricket takes about 3 minutes.

Chien said that cricket hunting must be coordinated with the person accompanying him, quickly and quickly, if it is slow, it will jump somewhere else. In addition, the alignment of the shovel to block the cave must be almost absolute, if it is wrong, the crickets will enter the cave tens of centimeters deep, forcing the shovel to dig many times to find it.

“When crickets appear, the capture must be skillful and decisive, to avoid being bitten by them. In addition, if you shoot too hard, the crickets will die,” he said.

Cricket hunting is a seasonal occupation of the people of Son Hong commune, which takes place in the 7th and 9th lunar months every year. Each cricket nest usually has one living inside, but this time they are in the breeding season, the male makes a call to attract the female, so sometimes a pair of crickets can be caught.

Hunters said crickets are very intelligent, when nesting, they often dig two niches, including main and secondary. This species often lives and hides in the main niche, when in danger, or attacked, it will run to the side to hide. If anyone hunts without experience, it is impossible to detect where the animal is hiding.

In 3 hours in the afternoon, Mr. Chien caught more than 100 crickets, which he planned to bring back to be processed as food. Many people in the village, after catching them, sell them to traders or some people in the area for 2,000 VND per head.

Chien added that diners often prefer female crickets, because of their fat, male crickets are often hard and the meat is dry. To distinguish, it is necessary to look closely. The male has a large body, with swirls on its back. The wings are long, and smooth, and the abdomen contains large eggs.

Cricket hunting season
Chien caught two pairs of male crickets after more than 10 times pouring water into the cave. Photo: Duc Hung

“When I was young, I went to class with a group of friends in the morning, and in the afternoon, while tending cattle and buffaloes, we often invited each other to pour water to catch grilled crickets. Now I’m an adult and work far away, but every time I go back to my hometown to hunt crickets, my memories are always there. rushing back,” said the 34-year-old man.

Mr. Nguyen Van Hung, 58 years old, residing in Son Hong commune, always looks forward to the cricket catch. If the weather is favorable, every day he spends about 5 hours hunting crickets, Mr. Hung catches more than 150 children, selling them for a profit of about 300,000 VND. “The husband and wife work in the fields, so the economy is precarious. The income from selling crickets on these occasions is a large sum of money, helping to cover many things,” he said.

Hunting crickets has many methods, in addition to pouring water, you can also use a hoe to dig each time and then follow it down to the cave, or use a spring-loaded steel wire threaded inside to catch it. Son Hong is a mountainous area, vacant land is often located next to streams, so hunters often choose to pour water for convenience.

“Sometimes there is a risk because there may be snakes in the cave. I was once attacked by this reptile when I put my hand close to the mouth of the cave, fortunately, it was not a poisonous snake,” said Mr. Hung. In the rainy season, the nest is flooded, and crickets will climb on the branches. At this time, catching crickets will be easier, just look closely at the tree to be able to use a racket or hand to catch.

A plate of deep-fried crickets at a family’s dinner in Son Hong commune. Photo: Duc Hung

Crickets are considered a specialty in restaurants and pubs in Ha Tinh, traders always buy from hunters to re-import to make a profit. Crickets, after making intestines, are washed and sold to the market for 2,500 VND each. Crickets are processed into many dishes such as fried flour, grilled, and roasted with salt and chili… In Huong Son district, crispy fried spiced crickets are the most popular dish.

Crickets are insects of the order of straight wings, with long antennae, large, strong hind legs, and burrowing living in the ground. There are an estimated 1,000 species of crickets in the world, mainly belonging to the gryllidae and gryllotalpidae families .

Crickets eat organic objects, young plants, small roots, and young parts of plants, causing damage to vegetables, food crops… In Vietnam, many people raise crickets in large quantities for sale. for restaurants to make dishes, because there are many nutrients.

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