Grasshopper Catching Season

During the harvest season, people on the outskirts of Hanoi are not only busy during the day harvesting their crops but also go to the fields at night to catch grasshoppers. The insect is regarded as a nutritious and intriguing dish and recently has become food much sought after. 
According to Doan Van Gioi, a grasshopper catcher in Dong Tien Commune, Ung Hoa District (Hanoi), tools include a light attached to the head, a rope more than ten metres in length with plastic bags tied to it and a nylon net with a 2m-long handle.

Catching requires at least two people. The job normally starts at 16:00 every day. First, two catchers hold the rope across the field and pass it along to make grasshoppers gather in a small and bushy field, which makes it easier to catch them.

After that, they wait till sunset to catch the grasshoppers, as during this time, these insects fly much more slowly and closer to the ground. Then, the catchers pass the nylon net through vegetation just above the ground in the whole field to catch grasshoppers. The continuous movement of the catchers prevents caught grasshoppers from flying out.

Grasshopper catchers use a long rope with many plastic bags attached to force grasshoppers to gather in a small field.

Plastic bags create sound when moving and scare the grasshoppers, making them fly to the desired places.

Massive swarms of grasshoppers fly out when the rope is passed through.

Female grasshoppers are bigger, fatter and pricier than male ones. According to catchers in Ung Hoa District,
grasshopper catching is like fishing, it depends on luck whether they can catch a lot of female grasshoppers.

During the day, grasshoppers often dwell near the roots of rice plants.

At night, the grasshoppers will climb to the top of the plants.
If frightened by noises, they will fly out slowly and close to the ground.

The catchers start by using nylon nets to catch grasshoppers at about 18:00, when the sun sets.

Their tools are nylon nets or fabric bags. 

The catching job is so labourious that they often package the catch
after finishing a small field and have a break before continuing their work.

The output of a night.

On average, a couple of catchers can get 8-10kg of grasshoppers a night. 

The catch is sold to traders at the price of 60,000-80,000VND/kg.

In Le Thanh Commune, there are many people hired to process grasshoppers. Their main duty is to remove the wings of grasshoppers. On average, a person can process 5-6kg of the insect a night, earning meagre wages of 30,000-40,000VND. 

Nguyen Van Cau, one of the biggest grasshopper traders and contributors in Le Thanh Commune,
hires dozens of people to process grasshoppers on a daily basis. 

The insect that is often regarded as a serious pest of rice crops is gaining popularity as a tasty,
nutritious and crispy exotic food. Some dub it "flying shrimp".".

Each night, Gioi and his partners can catch between 8 and 10 kg of grasshoppers. The catch will be put in freezer boxes and sent to traders in mountainous areas like Son La and Ha Giang at the price of 60,000-80,000VND/kg.

Nguyen Huu Ba, also a grasshopper catcher in Ung Hoa District, showed us to a place where grasshoppers are bought and processed in nearby Le Thanh Commune, My Duc District. "In the past, there were a few people in Thu Village, Le Thanh Commune involved in grasshopper catching. Now almost all the men in the commune are doing the job. The elders, women and children who cannot join stay at home to process the catch," shared Ba.

We followed a cement road by the Day River to get to Thu Village in Le Thanh Commune, My Duc District (Hanoi). On two sides of the main road in the village, there were a lot of people busy processing grasshoppers with baskets full of the insects. People, from children to elders, sat in places with good light to process the caught insects.

We went to the house of Nguyen Van Cau, one of the biggest grasshopper traders and distributors in the commune. He acknowledged that each day he buys around 3 centum weights of grasshoppers and hires villagers to process them at the price of 6,000-8,000VND/kg. In addition to buying from local catchers in surrounding areas, he also buys grasshoppers from middle provinces such as Nghe An and Quang Nam and distributes them to restaurants in Hanoi as well as throughout the country.

By Cong Dat

From street kid to famous photographer

From street kid to famous photographer

Photographer Tran The Phong is well-known for his photos, featuring the daily lives around him and in places where he travels.