National Geographic : 1953 Sep
394 National Geographic Photographer Willard R. Culver One More Step and This Fireside Troubadour Will Sing No More The author's collie, Ginger, deeply interested in the cricket, was totally oblivious of the photographer's activity with high-speed lights and other gear. To keep the insect from hopping out of camera range, it was drugged momentarily with a painless chemical. The episode ended unhappily: Ginger ate the cricket. been of interest to primitive and civilized people alike. At College Park, Georgia, an enterprising man runs a cricket hatchery (pages 387, 392). George Smith returned from a fishing trip in 1950 with a few crickets left over. He decided to breed the insects for fish bait. In 1952 he sold a million. One species of cricket is widely eaten in Burma. It is sold, fried, on the market in Mandalay. Caught by professional collectors from near-by villages, the crickets sell for one rupee and four annas (about 23 cents in United States currency) a hundred. During festivals, baskets of fried crickets often are consumed as a special treat. The insects are also greatly prized as food by the Siamese, who roast them over a fire. One Occidental visitor to the country found courage enough to try eating crickets, but thought them insipid; others have described their flavor as similar to lettuce. As one entomologist points out, it would be difficult to give sound reasons why Americans eat oysters, crabs, snails, and lobsters but disdain to eat equally clean, palatable, and nutritious insects. Crickets May Speak Dialects An American entomologist is working on the theory that crickets have dialects, and he believes that a careful study of their songs can place them geographically. For instance, a distinguishing trill might prove the cricket was a southerner; an unusual flourish could mean he was a Yankee. Outside my house, in the darkening hours of the night, hundreds of crickets, tuning up their fiddlesticks, struck the opening bars of the insect opera. Inside, Jiminy Cricket answered with a solitary chirp. Giving up the search, I returned to my book. My dog was more persistent. Suddenly I realized that the chirping inside had ceased. Some people believe that to kill a cricket will bring bad luck, but apparently Ginger is not a superstitious dog.