Join our newsletter

Be the first to know about new stories, stock images, fieldwork, invitations to WA events and more!

Documenting Grasshopper Catching and Cricket Farming in Indonesia

by | Mar 14, 2024

A collector shows dead and alive grasshoppers after being released from a sack at a collector’s house in Wonosari. Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Exposing the animals within Our Food Systems

We Animals photojournalist Resha Juhari recently explored and documented the practices of grasshopper catching and cricket farming in Indonesia. Consumption of insects in Indonesia stems from ancient times and is becoming increasingly popular among visiting tourists, despite its threat to the country’s precious biodiversity.

“Seeing insects used as food was a different experience for me. This assignment involved aspects of pests, protein foods, ancient traditions, the environment, and the sustainability of the food chain.” ― Resha Juhari, animal photojournalist

Photographer: Resha Juhari

Written by: We Animals
Maxine

Grasshopper hunters use wooden sticks to catch grasshoppers in teak trees. With glue on long wooden sticks, grasshoppers are easier to catch. During grasshopper season, a grasshopper collector can collect 1-2 kilograms of grasshoppers. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta Special Region Province, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Grasshopper Catching for “Walang Goreng”

In the Indonesian district of Wonosari, fried grasshoppers, known as “Walang Goreng,” are a long-standing culinary tradition and are also popular with tourists. Despite being considered pests, grasshoppers play crucial roles in ecosystems, aiding agriculture by consuming unwanted vegetation and decaying plant matter, and enriching the soil with their dung.

Indonesia is the second most biologically diverse country in the world but its ecosystems are degrading at a concerning rate due to land-use change and overexploitation. Excessive human consumption of this insect threatens Indonesia’s already dwindling wildlife population, which relies on grasshoppers as a primary food source. This potentially leads to ecological imbalances and adverse cascading effects on the local environment.

Sweeper at the beach in Canada. Photo credit: Cindy Hughes.

A collector reaches into a large sack filled with live wild-caught grasshoppers to remove dead animals and sort them for sale. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

The high teak trees are inhabited by many grasshoppers. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta Special Region Province, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Some Wonosari grasshopper hunters gather the insects from local teak forests, collecting approximately one to two kilograms daily, depending on the season. The hunters use glue-coated wooden sticks to make grasshoppers dwelling in teak trees easier to catch. Local sources say that due to high demand and declining local grasshopper populations, some hunters are sourcing grasshoppers from outside the region, notably the Wood grasshopper (Valanga nigricornis), also known as the Javanese grasshopper, whose local scarcity has increased their market value. One collector states that they sell 20 to 80 kilograms of live grasshoppers daily for USD 9.00 (IDR 140,000) or USD 12.75 (IDR 200,000) per kilogram for the rare Wood grasshopper.

Maxine

A wild grasshopper stuck to a hunter’s catching stick is removed by a grasshopper hunter. Grasshopper hunters use glue-coated wooden sticks to make grasshoppers dwelling in teak trees easier to catch. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Sweeper at the beach in Canada. Photo credit: Cindy Hughes.

Live wild-caught grasshoppers are separated from large sacks into smaller one-kilogram plastic bags by a grasshopper collector. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

An escaped wild-caught grasshopper sits atop a sack containing countless other live grasshoppers at a collector’s home. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Locals and foreign tourists frequently purchase fried grasshoppers from stalls along the Wonosari Highway, a popular tourist route. One seller, in business for 25 years, attracts customers by preparing the live grasshoppers and frying them on-site.

Maxine

Fried wild-caught grasshoppers are removed from a pan and transferred to containers at a roadside fried grasshopper stall. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Sweeper at the beach in Canada. Photo credit: Cindy Hughes.

A man purchases fried grasshoppers from a roadside fried grasshopper seller. The sellers set up along the town’s main road, aiming to sell to visiting tourists. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

A wild grasshopper’s abdomen is cut open with scissors by a roadside fried grasshopper seller who is preparing grasshoppers for cooking. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Cricket Farming

In Indonesia, the nocturnal chirps of crickets are a familiar sound, and these insects have long been used in Asian regions as ‘fighting” animals or as a food source for farmed animals and humans.

Like many insects, crickets naturally benefit ecosystems by consuming decaying plant and animal matter and enriching the soil with their dung, reducing the need for pesticides. Despite these benefits, the rise in popularity of bird and fish ownership has increased the farming of crickets in Indonesia as a source of pet food.

Maxine

A single medium-sized cricket sits on the knuckles of a cricket farmer’s hand, who displays the animal to the camera. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Crickets dwell at the bottom of a wooden cricket cage at a residential cricket farm while the farmer checks the cassava leaf and chicken pellet feed spread throughout the box. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Sweeper at the beach in Canada. Photo credit: Cindy Hughes.

Crickets inside a wooden box live amid their cassava leaf and chicken pellet feed at a cricket farm set up at the farmer’s home. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Cricket farming requires little space and typically occurs at people’s homes. The insects are kept in wooden boxes and fed leaves, such as cassava and papaya, or pelleted chicken feed. One of the cricket farmers our photojournalist spoke with harvests 20 to 30 kilograms of crickets every two days and approximately 300 kilograms per month.

After approximately 30 days, when the crickets have grown to a saleable size, they are sold to Javanese regions as animal feed or fried as snacks, a relatively new trend popular with tourists. These snacks are made with live crickets, who are cleaned, seasoned, and then cooked in hot oil.

Maxine

Farmed crickets crawl over trimmed cassava leaf stems, displayed to the camera by the farmer. The crickets also receive chicken feed pellets to eat. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Sweeper at the beach in Canada. Photo credit: Cindy Hughes.

Two plastic containers filled with fried crickets, sold as snacks, sit open on a counter at a cricket farm. Containers of fried crickets are available in many of the region’s souvenir shops. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Crickets inside a wooden box live amid their cassava leaf and chicken pellet feed at a cricket farm set up at the farmer’s home. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

Maxine

A local man tips his head back as he consumes a fried wild-caught grasshopper. Area residents believe the animals are pests that can provide a high source of protein. Wonosari, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2024.

Resha Juhari / We Animals

With the farming and consumption of insects rising around the globe as pressure amps up to find solutions to feed our growing population, insect cognition and sentience are being researched and discussed more than ever. These visuals offer a glimpse into the experiences of these previously unconsidered animals.

Photographer: Resha Juhari

Written by: We Animals

Explore and download visuals from this assignment via our stock platform and help tell these underreported stories.