Cricket Man

I’ve been told they exist here too, but I haven’t yet seen an ice cream truck here in China. What I have seen, as of last Saturday, is a cricket bicycle. No circus music tunes coming from this bicycle. Instead, incessant cricket chirping is what alerts you of its presence. It drew me right over.

Below, Cricket Man is showing me his goods. 3 rmb for the little crickets, 5 rmb for the big ones. You have to cut the little baskets open if you want to get them out.

crickets 01

Look at that bike… Loaded up, with crickety goodness! (Each of the spherical baskets on the back of the bike has a cricket inside it.)

crickets 02

At my request, Cricket Man is transferring a cricket to one of the nicer cages (which sell for 5 rmb each). He says they do bite, but it doesn’t hurt much. I noticed he didn’t want to touch the cricket, though.

crickets 03

Imprisoned again… more attractively, this time.

crickets 04

“Freeee meeee…”

crickets 05

I didn’t buy a cricket. I gave Cricket Man a tip for going to the trouble of tranferring a cricket so I could get some pictures. He said the crickets he sold will fight each other. I guess these are the crickets I heard about, so long ago…

P.S. It strikes me that maybe these are locusts, not crickets. But so what? This is Sinosplice, not Entomosplice!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Da Xiangchang Says: July 28, 2005 at 8:20 am

    Hey, that’s pretty exotic. Never seen a cricket bicycle guy before, though I once saw a guy with a monkey on his shoulder in Nanjing. Another time, I saw this guy selling all these midget bunnies on the street. Those bunnies were sooooooooooooo cuuuuuuttteeee, esp. when they nibble on pieces of food. Nibble, nibble nibble. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh . . .

  2. Yeah, they look almost like grasshoppers. Most of the crickets that I have seen are black, too. Different country, different crickets, I guess. BTW, grasshoppers are the insects that comprise “locust” plagues.

  3. I’m no entomologist though my advanced degree in entomology begs to differ but I believe you are correct. It is not a cricket but more likely a cicada (tis the season) or, as the long, strong rear legs would indicate, a grasshopper, all be it a very large one. West of Orlando, Fl in the Clearwater area, grasshoppers exceeding a length of four inches are quite common. Either way, cicada or giant grasshopper, you thank your lucky stars that cage was there for protection. Don’t deluded yourself, John. If that…thing…had the chance it’d it you and everyone you cared about. Or maybe it’d just eat some leave on some shrubs you have a particular fondness for, I don’t know. I don’t really care for bugs. I don’t know why I wasted so much time at the University of Tokyo studying them. Oh yeah. For the chicks. Anywho, found an interesting link dealing with the cicada’s role in Chinese folklore and medicine. Check it out:

  4. It’s definitely not a cicada. That I know.

  5. we call it “蝈蝈” and esp shanghainese call it “叫蝈蝈”(蝈 pronounces the same to 哥 in Shanghai Hua). Some are called “纺织娘”.And yup, it’s not cicada, though hums alike.

  6. I searched the web, it is said 纺织娘 is Mecopoda elongata Linnaeus, one kind of locust. I wonder is this a name for that insect? so funny ;D

  7. Thanks, Kastner.

    Baidu image search results:
    蝈蝈 guōguo (katydid/”long-horned grasshopper”. Really only one good picture, on the first page of results.)
    蟋蟀 xīshuài (cricket)

  8. Tim P.,
    No, it’s not a real grasshopper. A grasshopper is much smaller than a katydid. And what is most important, Katydid do not harm the plants.

  9. So can you hear a difference between the sounds of the two insects? Does a katydid go “咯咯” and a cricket (also known as 蛐蛐) really go “瞿瞿”? (last character should have 口 on the left.)

  10. zhwj,
    haha, maybe. Sound of a katydid always goes uninterruptedly while a cricket on the contrary. Staying with hundred of katydids for hours can make you deaf, not kidding.

  11. Okay I checked that degree on my wall and it’s not a M.S. in Entomology it’s an M.S. in Erotic Massagery. At first glance it looked similar to a Greengrocer Cicada but its not. It’s also not a cricket or grasshopper. It’s a katydid. A male, straight-lanced meadow katydid or conocephalus strictus. I’m not sure if that’s the exact species but I’m getting closer. Cicada. What was I thinking?

  12. Da Xiangchang Says: July 29, 2005 at 3:27 am

    Maybe this is sadistic of me, but I would REALLY love to put a hamster in a small cage with three of these grasshoppers and see what happens. Haha. One of the greatest nature shows I’ve ever seen involved these desert mice (forgot the exact name). In one episode, two mice fought this gigantic battle with this huge scorpion. When the scorpion got defeated, I felt immensely proud to be a mammal.

  13. So did the guy call it a 蝈蝈 guōguo, or 蟋蟀 xīshuài? It looks ferocious! How long do they survive in those cages? Are they fed?

  14. Oooh! Put a little lipstick on it, throw in a couple pairs of 4″ metal spiked heels and a mini skirt and it would be pretty cute. Or is that just me?

  15. CW,

    He didn’t call it anything. I foolishly forgot to ask. I didn’t ask how long they survive, either. They were fed soy beans.

  16. I told you that we call them 蝈蝈! Ohhhhhhhh, your guys don’t even trust what a local says? ::crying::
    hmm, that depends on many things, the longest survived katydid of mine was into the end of Oct., some ppl overwinter the katydids by keepin them in the wadded jacket. they’ll then survive to the spring.

  17. greg pasden Says: July 31, 2005 at 5:49 am

    They are beautiful.

  18. Karen F. Says: July 11, 2007 at 11:52 am

    What is a “wadded jacket?” A katydid has been in my kitchen all week. It is very interesting. It is green with a black stripe down its back and small. A person who knows his bugs says it is a katydid in nymph stage. I have given it water, bread, lettuce, and now a vase of tree leaves, two Rose of Sharon flowers and a light green hydrangea flower. It really likes the Rose of Sharon. It acts like a little animal. It is just living on my kitchen counter and I named it Kate. No, I am not crazy. I am a wife and mother, but this thing is interesting. I would like to keep this katydid if possible. But what is a wadded jacket which someone mentioned? How do we build a cage for “Kate?” Thanks. Mrs. KF in the US.

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