The thought of it may bug some people, but New Jersey’s newest game has people spitting crickets.
A few dozen people puckered up for a cricket-spitting contest at Rutgers University last week as part of the 56th annual educational clinic of the New Jersey Pest Management Association. Tom Turpin, an entomology professor from Purdue University in Indiana, says he and his colleagues were looking for additions to their annual Bug Bowl. A mention of watermelon-seed spitting evolved into a discussion of which bugs would be good for spitting. Turpin suggested the brown house cricket because it is similar in size to a watermelon pit and holds its shape through freezing and thawing.
“Because it’s frozen, it makes it easier,” said Heather McNenny of Wildwood-based Paul’s Pest Control, who took part in the contest. “They’re not all squirmy.” Cricket spitting has helped the Bug Bowl’s annual attendance grow to 35,000. Turpin hosts contests across the Midwest and has worked as a consultant to the television show Fear Factor. The rules are simple: Competitors stand in a red circle, place thawed crickets inside their mouths and, within 20 seconds, spit them as far as possible without stepping outside the circle. The official Guinness world record is 30 feet, 1.2 inches (903 centimetres). The unofficial record from the Purdue Bug Bowl is 1.135 metres.
The first New Jersey title went to Chris O’Donovan of Cooper Pest Control in Lawrenceville, who spit his cricket 855 centimetres. He won a smiling metal cricket with a clicker hidden beneath. “This was part of my accomplishment on the field of battle today,” O’Donovan said.
Where is the ASPCA when you need them?