Yes, there is cricket fighting on campus
Cricket fighting began in China where it apparently is starting to lose popularity. The cricket fighting that takes place at UMBC is solely for the fun of it all.
Many people consider crickets to be hopping pests that chirp through the night, but they are actually a part of a unique pastime here at UMBC. Not to be confused with the sport cricket, these trained insects go head-to-head in matches.
“We started doing this sometime last semester. We just thought it would be cool to have bug fights,” said Samuel Bolgiano, a freshman mechanical engineering major. They originally wanted to host praying mantis or beetle fights, but realized crickets are more affordable and easier to train.
Jesse Roland, a freshman computer science major, is Bolgiano’s friend who’s also involved in cricket fighting. “To train them, we put two males in a container and separate them with a piece of paper. We irritate their antennae by poking them or rubbing them with a straw,” said Roland. Once the crickets start chirping loudly out of irritation, they remove the piece of paper and the two go at it.
Before the majority of them died, they had fifteen crickets, five of them being female. Sometimes before a fight, they put the male fighter in a container with a female. This gets them riled up and makes them more aggressive when they fight. However, they currently only have three crickets left with one of them barely hanging on.
Spartacus, their strongest contender, passed away recently. In his honor, they hosted a memorial service for him. “We built a teepee out of paper with him in it and we set fire to it outside Patapsco Hall,” said Roland. There was also Crixus, named after the popular show Spartacus. Of course, there was Jiminy the cricket as well who, unlike Spartacus, wasn’t much competition and actually died in battle.
“We try to do this once a week. It’s definitely a weekend thing that we just do for fun. We’ve had 15 to 20 people show up before,” said Bolgiano. As anyone could imagine, cricket fights with a crowd like this can get a little rowdy. Due to noise complaints, they have had to relocate to the library basement.
“Some fights are more brutal than others. We’ve seen fighters successfully remove their opponent’s leg or antenna before,”said Roland. “They don’t always die during the fight though. We determine the winner when the other one just stops fighting.”
A particular concern is that “Sometimes they hop out of their container at night and we have to capture them and put them back,” said Bolgiano. Roland and Bolgiano admit that the constant chirping through the night has definitely affected their sleep. Surely, many people may find this a bit bizarre, but this is no April Fool’s joke. Cricket fighting is in fact a form of entertainment for students here at UMBC.