So, a shipment of crickets for the lizard arrived via FedEx today.
December 28, 2018 9:14 PM   Subscribe

It was my first time ordering bulk crickets off the internet, and I naively assumed that they would be in like, a bag or some other contraption to facilitate easy transfer to another container. They were not.

In which Christopher Ingraham @_cingraham (Yes, the WaPo reporter) has a late-December insect adventure. Twitter thread, main story easy to read at link.
posted by hippybear (71 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is possibly the broadest-retweeted thing on my entire feed right now. It has positively exploded into all corners of the twitterverse. People are desperate for a harmless fuckup story.
posted by Etrigan at 9:22 PM on December 28, 2018 [43 favorites]


And now it's crossed the blood-brain barrier and all is lost.
posted by hippybear at 9:26 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I want to go back in time and tell him to get a vacuum. Vacuums are what separate us from the beasts.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:28 PM on December 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


So the cricket company(?) just sent a ton of crickets in a box and then just... shipped the box full of crickets? that's insane!!!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:37 PM on December 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


The box of bobcats was much, much worse.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:53 PM on December 28, 2018 [62 favorites]


Would not buy again, ricochet.

I'm trying to figure out how you're supposed to open that box. Open the box over a really big trash can? Just cut off a corner and shake 'em out one at a time? Put it in the fridge first?
posted by MengerSponge at 10:08 PM on December 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


This made me laugh hard enough my kids asked what was so funny.

"So the cricket company(?) just sent a ton of crickets in a box and then just... shipped the box full of crickets? that's insane!!!"

Wait until you order a few hundred live ladybugs for that garden of yours: no matter how they're contained in the package, some of them somehow escape the container. And container quality varies widely!

The class above me in high school did basically what this guy did as their senior prank. They bought crickets, dumped them in a backpack, cut a slit in the back of the backpack, and "accidentally" forgot it in the principal's office under a chair, similar havoc ensued!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:31 PM on December 28, 2018 [17 favorites]


Hahahaha. My childhood friend's sister had this going on in her bedroom pretty much perpetually, due to her lizards, whose terrariums were not well sealed. Also, she had two parrots that were allowed to fly around in there. Sleeping in that bedroom was a very intense experience. She talked in her sleep and I always kinda thought, "man, who wouldn't."
posted by potrzebie at 10:32 PM on December 28, 2018 [58 favorites]


Love that someone in the thread mentioned the FedEx Super Hub in Memphis, because that's where I learned that, yes, shippers ship crickets in a box that has air holes with little screens over them, but no other cricket containment technology whatsoever.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:35 PM on December 28, 2018 [17 favorites]


In a lizard forum somewhere there is a dude talking about "newbs" and boxed crickets.
posted by maxwelton at 10:37 PM on December 28, 2018 [24 favorites]


“Crickets: the cockroaches you can hear!”
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:38 PM on December 28, 2018 [45 favorites]


dislike. extreme dislike.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:39 PM on December 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's oddly reassuring just how quickly the twitter thread gets to Komodo Dragons as a solution.
posted by sammyo at 10:43 PM on December 28, 2018 [22 favorites]


I had ONE cricket trapped in my apartment for a few days after a roommate moved out, and that was bad enough trying to get the thing. ONE.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:51 PM on December 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Wait until you order a few hundred live ladybugs for that garden of yours: no matter how they're contained in the package, some of them somehow escape the container. And container quality varies widely!

Lucky for me- considering how many of the "ladybugs" via mail are extremely non-native, if I ever needed more ladybugs than nature could supply I'd buy them from my local garden center, where I suppose their back room must be just wall to wall bugs. not my problem! Of course... the car ride from the garden center could conceivably be... buggy... Maybe I'll just trust in nature *shudder*
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:52 PM on December 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Happily, ladybugs are one of the only bugs I can allow to crawl on me without triggering a strong response.
posted by hippybear at 10:57 PM on December 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


"...the world's shittiest game of Pokemon."
posted by Marky at 11:28 PM on December 28, 2018 [33 favorites]


I make this information public because if I do not send any tweets tomorrow, it is because my wife murdered me after finding a cricket in our bed in the middle of the night.

"Murder"? Pah! There's not a court in the world that would convict her of anything more than voluntary manslaughter.
posted by howfar at 12:08 AM on December 29, 2018 [17 favorites]


People send postcards and angry letters to their Republican representatives and the White House when this is something you can have delivered.

I mean, we know Ted Cruz IS a lizard, so...I mean...I mean...

I don't want my name on the return address, but I would donate so hard to a good cause like this.
posted by saysthis at 12:11 AM on December 29, 2018 [24 favorites]


So how in the fuck does the cricket shipping company get all those crickets into the box in the first place?
posted by ZaneJ. at 2:38 AM on December 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


Easy. They just put two crickets and some food in the box and by the time it gets there it's about two fifty.
posted by loquacious at 3:55 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I had a cricket fly into my window in Sarajevo. He was kind of cute. The only measure I took about him was to leave the window open. In four days he left. A box of them would have been kind of awful.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:35 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Okay but considering that cardboard boxes occasionally get damaged in shipping... how many postal/UPS workers have just been driving their vehicles, delivering packages, minding their own business... when suddenly they find themselves under attack by hundreds of crickets from somewhere behind them??!! Because holy fucking shit.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 5:03 AM on December 29, 2018 [17 favorites]


First world problems.
posted by sudogeek at 5:24 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I keep wondering where the lizard is in all this.
posted by How the runs scored at 5:25 AM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I keep wondering where the lizard is in all this.

Being tortured by the sights and sounds of all that delicious food perpetually out of his reach. The ASPCA has been alerted.
posted by jeremias at 5:37 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


There's a story at my alma mater (USC) that, as part of our ongoing rivalry with the other school across town, someone from my school released about 3000 crickets in one of the libraries at the other school.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:47 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I don't think I have ever been to the home of a lizard keeper without hearing a cricket chirping somewhere in the house, or spotting one loose on the floor. I always figured it was an occupational hazard of keeping insectivorous reptiles. It's also why I don't keep insectivorous reptiles.
posted by mcwetboy at 5:50 AM on December 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


Senior year of college I did desktop support. I occasionally had to go to students’ rooms in my dorm to fix problems. This one kid, I walk into the room and he slams the door behind me and the place is just swarming with crickets. Hundreds of them. Thousands. Every surface is covered in crickets. This is a duplex suite, five guys live here in five bedrooms, and the whole place is covered in crickets.

I lift up his computer to unplug something and when I go to put it down I almost squish a lizard. The crickets are to feed a lizard.

A. Lizard. Small enough to hide under a desktop computer.

I never went back in there, but I assume all the students were eaten by the crickets.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:01 AM on December 29, 2018 [32 favorites]


Gaaaaah, I hate crickets so much. I would have to burn the house down. Nuke from orbit.
posted by sarcasticah at 7:11 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ugh. As is so often the case, I feel sorry for his wife.
posted by sockermom at 7:18 AM on December 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I send thee a FedEx package, to open in your living room.
posted by Devonian at 7:36 AM on December 29, 2018 [42 favorites]


we must make a 3-day journey into the area unserved by public wifi to offer sacrifices
posted by poffin boffin at 8:27 AM on December 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


Phew, dropped a Jackie Chan comment in here by mistake. He'd take care of those crickets, though. You bet he would.

We have a bearded dragon (not really our choice of pet) for Reasons. So my wife gets crickets shipped in and, yeah, they come in a box with air holes. The most unsettling thing is the noise it makes when it's just sitting, unopened, somewhere in an otherwise quiet room. Positively teeming with crickets!

Anyway, she's good with 'em. Only once or twice have we had a real breach of security that saw crickets, like, loose, away from the bathroom where we keep the feeders. The trick is to have a spare aquarium set up for the crickets, so you just put the box in the aquarium, stick a secure lid on, and let them do their thing until you're ready to take a few out for feeding. Opening the box would be a Bad Idea for sure -- vacuum cleaner the only way to go.

Sometimes I'm annoyed by the presence of the crickets, but then I see how goddamned happy they make our beardie and I'm OK with them. The big green caterpillars, though, those are the real treats ...
posted by Mothlight at 8:27 AM on December 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


About 20 minutes later I'm back at work on my computer, and I hear my wife in the kitchen: "where are these goddamn crickets coming from." I freely admit I had not kept her fully up-to-date on my cricket purchasing plans.

It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.

"If you choose to confess to your wife that you ordered all those crickets, turn to page 17."

"If you choose to feign shock and surprise and deny any knowledge about the origin of the crickets, turn to page 31."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:33 AM on December 29, 2018 [29 favorites]


"Okay but considering that cardboard boxes occasionally get damaged in shipping... how many postal/UPS workers have just been driving their vehicles, delivering packages, minding their own business... when suddenly they find themselves under attack by hundreds of crickets from somewhere behind them??!! Because holy fucking shit."

A LOT. I have a friend who's a postmaster who's served in rural post offices, where there's a lot more live insect/live animal shipping, and they all have a million stories of this kind of thing happening.

The crickets and ladybugs are not so bad. What drives the postal workers up the wall is BEES. Because a) most people are not super-comfortable hanging around with bees and b) as long as the queen remains contained, the rest of the bees will follow her box. SO WHAT HAPPENS A LOT is, someone packs the queen very carefully but does kind-of a shitty job with the rest of the bees. Box gets a corner slightly squished in shipping, juuuuuuust enough to let all the bees start making a break for freedom. And once they're outside, flying happily in the fresh air, THEY JUST FOLLOW THE QUEEN'S BOX THROUGH THE ENTIRE POSTAL SYSTEM. So more than once they've had a box where there were half a dozen bees buzzing around when they put it in the truck for delivery, but halfway through the route the truck was basically just a swarm of bees driving along rural routes, all following the queen in her box.

She had one employee who was allergic to bee stings and when someone on his route got bees he had to swap routes for the day, because they just do not want to stay contained.

A well-packed bee box you'll never know they're there except for the LIVE BEES label. But there's a lot of crappy bee-shippers out there who don't care that much about their bees, and those are the bees you get to meet!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:39 AM on December 29, 2018 [85 favorites]


did someone say BEES
posted by poffin boffin at 8:47 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


> how many postal/UPS workers have just been driving their vehicles, delivering packages, minding their own business... when suddenly they find themselves under attack by hundreds of crickets from somewhere behind them??!! Because holy fucking shit.
Attack is a bit strong. Back when I ran mail, there was a family on the route with lizards and at least one snake, and they got regular shipments chirp of crickets. Just a brown cardboard chirp box with little screened vents full chirp of loose crickets. It was normal chirp for a one of the screens chirp to develop a small rip, and chirp the crickets would singly chirp escape throughout the chirp day. Into the post chirp office. Into chirp the LLV. You chirp could chirp still chirp hear the escapees chirp for days chirpchirp afterward throughout that chirp post chirp office and chirp truck.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 8:50 AM on December 29, 2018 [58 favorites]


I never found the chirping that annoying. It was the creepy-weird scuffling scratching noise the swarm made on the inner surface of the box.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 8:54 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.

"If you choose to confess to your wife that you ordered all those crickets, turn to page 17."


THROW TEA OVER CRICKETS | JUMP OUT WINDOW
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:12 AM on December 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


Ah, this brought back memories.

In 1986-1987 I was an undergrad at the University of Michigan. My roommate and I had lucked into a really good room - actually, a suite. He was able to bring in a couple of pets, including a lizard. Said lizard required crickets. Roomie always brought them back to our suite in a paper sack, which he upended into the lizard tank.

After a time the lizard tank's seal became... imperfect. One dinner-destined cricket escaped. Then another. We started hearing chirps from under our beds. In the bathroom. In the living room. Under our desks. Behind casements, somehow.

My roomie was clever, as well as stressed by exams. First he went after them with shoes and other blunt instruments. This generated a soundtrack for my studies. "Chirp?" Crunch. "Chirp." Crunch and a pleased "heh heh." I took study breaks to help with the cricket liquidation campaign.

Next he focused on the ones hiding in the bathroom. For some inspired reason he decided to switch up blunt instruments up for the glorious power that is fire. This involved combining a deodorant spray can with a lighter. Armed with this DIY, small, effective, and possibly ozone-layer-destroying flamethrower my roommate went after the crickets. The soundtrack changed. Now it became: "Chirp." FWOOSH. "HeHe!" "Chirp!?" FWOOSH. "AHAHAHAHA!"

This approach succeed in purging some of the cricket menace, but not all of it. Some of the critters escaped our rooms and reached the rest of the dorm. To give you a sense of scale, East Quad then housed around 900 students plus some number of support staff. Beyond the housing spaces it also boasted numerous classrooms, a small ballroom, several stories, and enormous basements running the building's full length. It was into those underground chambers that our surviving crickets escaped. For days afterwards people reported hearing chirp sounds from the basement. Most notorious were the crickets that made new homes in very long pipes and ducts that ran for dozens of yards. You could hear the chirps echoing for great distances: "CHIRP! chirp.. chirp.... chirp...... chirp......."
posted by doctornemo at 9:28 AM on December 29, 2018 [15 favorites]


Many moons ago, as a young samovar, I worked in my college mailroom. Deliveries of big, heavy, stinky boxes of crickets would arrive, and be trucked to the small, humid, hot cricket room in the biology building.

During an unusual cold snap in the Southern US, a vicious cycle occurred wherein 1) an inattentive or just emotionally dead shipper would leave a crate of crickets out on the tarmac, ship them to us 2) frozen and dead and stinkier, leading to 3) an apologetic cricket breeder sending out another crate the same day we got the dead ones, leading to 4) repeat 2.

I have no idea how often the cycle repeated, as I only worked a couple of days a week, but the results were quite impressive, according to my biologist informants.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:46 AM on December 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


This could be the new glitter bomb. Don't like someone, got a grudge to settle, why not send em 250 crickets in a box.
this person is my new hero.
posted by theora55 at 10:02 AM on December 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


That glitter bomb guy wasted a LOT of effort, when he could have just used crickets.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:01 AM on December 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


It's oddly reassuring just how quickly the twitter thread gets to Komodo Dragons as a solution.

And in the winter, the Komodo Dragons just freeze to death!
posted by sexyrobot at 11:06 AM on December 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


This makes me feel better about the time when I was a kid trying to put ants into my Uncle Milton's Ant Farm, and managing to accidentally pour half of the vial (the ants were shipped in vials) onto my dresser and floor.
posted by littlesq at 11:42 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


But there's a lot of crappy bee-shippers out there who don't care that much about their bees, 

I mean, you could at least put them in some bumblewrap.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:34 PM on December 29, 2018 [27 favorites]


I laughed so hard I cried at this Twitter thread. Then I came here and laughed some more.

We suspect someone in our old DTLA apartment building had a lizard. Occasionally we'd get a cricket chirping under the refrigerator. They are LOUD (and it was a loft, so no doors). under_petticoat_rule discovered that you could get them to leave their spot under the fridge with a hair dryer. He transplanted them to the planter outside. The noise was much more delightful there.
posted by rednikki at 12:34 PM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


To give you a sense of scale, East Quad then housed ...

I knew it was an East Quad story in the second paragraph.
posted by jjray at 1:16 PM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I had a pet tarantula in my 20s. One day I gave her half a dozen crickets and left the lid to her aquarium slightly askance by accident after I was done. Well dammit if three of them didn't escape and for the next month or so those little cricketers cricketed their little cricket hearts out and drove me absolutely crazy. I couldn't imagine had it been a whole box full!
posted by Lizard at 1:54 PM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


No worries. He will find all the crickets eventually. Except for that one that none of us have ever been able to find.
posted by Twang at 3:08 PM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I am imagining the cats' glee and it's making me so happy.
posted by TwoStride at 3:36 PM on December 29, 2018 [15 favorites]


jjray, when were you at UM?
posted by doctornemo at 3:53 PM on December 29, 2018


I think this happened to my sister's family but I can't remember all the details.

My grandmother used to keep bees and I remember seeing the tiny wooden box with a clear top that held the queen she'd had shipped. It did have small holes on the sides covered with screens. It was like an 1/8"-scale coffin except for the air holes.
posted by bendy at 4:21 PM on December 29, 2018


Go team cricket!

Give us a Cheep!
cheep!

Give us another Cheep!
cheep!

Give us another Cheep!
cheep!

Give us another Cheep!
cheep!
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:29 PM on December 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: there's a lot of crappy bee-shippers out there
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:28 PM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


To be fair, it's not exactly interesting to ship bees. There's, what, 50 anonymous drones and one queen, and yeah, you just can't make an interesting backstory for a drone, so then you've got the queen and then she swarms, OK, but do we wait until some drones come with her, or what.

No, there's no good shipping to be done here, at all.

(Primarily posting this because someone will promptly come along and tell me about how bees do actually have several sex-selection methods which you could definitely write ships about.)
posted by ambrosen at 6:02 PM on December 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


jjray, when were you at UM?

Started 1997. That year I was in Lloyd House, West Quad. My room looked out on the cube.
posted by jjray at 6:17 PM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


A follow-up tweet from the same guy, on the experiences of Fed Ex drivers who've been in contact with him over cricket shipments.
posted by JHarris at 6:32 PM on December 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


(Primarily posting this because someone will promptly come along and tell me about how bees do actually have several sex-selection methods which you could definitely write ships about.)

I mean, mostly what comes to mind in bees is the more interesting possibilities posed by the haplodiploid sex-determination system: in many species, worker bees are indeed rendered sterile, but occasionally workers will partially revert past this suppression enough to manage at least one functioning ovary. They can't and don't mate with the drones, but they can lay unfertilized eggs... which are perfectly viable and hatch into drones. So you can wind up with these interesting drone origins and these complicated little ant dramas.

Some species of bees are monogamous; some are polyandrous, but the differences between these usually primarily affect the politics of the workers rather than the sexual politics of the queens, who mate with unrelated drones from other colonies--not drones from the home colony. (She travels to a place where lots of drones hang out to mate, and she goes farther from her natal colony to find a drone hangout than the drones go, ensuring she doesn't mate with her brothers.) Either way, a queen will not rise to mate again once she has mated once. (Workers who are more closely related to one another have more incentive to help one another; a full sister is worth more than a half sister.) And of course there are many solitary bees, like the rather lovely sweat bee.

I work in the basement of an elderly biology building on a floor that was occupied for decades by a herpetologist (now recently retiring! surprise vials of dead lizards from wall to wall!) and consequently I just sort of assume that roaches and crickets in the building are a fact of life. We're not allowed to spray anywhere in case it bugs either the plant folks or the insect folks in the building.

The time that a swarm of bees nominally living on the roof took up residence in the elevator was a bit much, though.
posted by sciatrix at 7:04 PM on December 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


Update and additional detail, via a writeup by Ingraham on the Washington Post site:

As I was making final edits to the story, I continued to hear increasingly frantic cricket-related outbursts from the kitchen. Briana later told me that she first realized something was terribly wrong when one of the cats suddenly leaped on to a pumpkin pie that had been warming on the countertop. It was going after an unusually large cricket that was munching the filling.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:41 PM on December 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


From Nicole Cliffe on twitter:
in every relationship there is the accidental cricket-releaser person and the where-are-all-these-damn-crickets-coming from person, look in your soul and ask: which am I?
posted by straight at 7:47 PM on December 29, 2018 [19 favorites]




I am imagining the cats' glee and it's making me so happy.

I am imagining the cats endlessly puking cricket parts after indulging in all that glee.

*blargh*
posted by BlueHorse at 8:57 PM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


in every relationship there is the accidental cricket-releaser person and the where-are-all-these-damn-crickets-coming from person, look in your soul and ask: which am I?
*sigh*
*guilty look at partner*
posted by happyroach at 9:07 PM on December 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


I love that literary Twitter list so hard. Colonel Brandon resigning himself to a houseful of crickets is my LIFE.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:33 PM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Another sad story from that comment thread, rendered as a haiku of chagrin:

bought crickets online
opened box: dead. went to bed.
crickets hibernate.
posted by panglos at 5:03 AM on December 30, 2018 [12 favorites]


It's hard to pick out just one tweet from that thread, but I'm fond of this one.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:21 AM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


G.S. (Gabrielle) Prendergast
@GabrielleSaraP·
Also:
Gryffindor: *releases crickets but doesn't mean to*
Slytherin: *releases crickets on purpose*
Ravenclaw: *Bewitches single cricket to assist with homework*
Hufflepuff: *knits tiny yellow and black sweaters for each cricket. Crickets are mistaken for bees. Chaos ensues.*
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:28 AM on December 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


Huh, my girlfriend has a tarantula, so we buy a bag of 20 crickets every other week or so from the pet store. They mostly just sit around in a little container we deposit them into. A couple will escape here and there but nothing big like this. However, ours make no noises whatsoever. I’ve been living with her for a year-and-a-half now and have never once heard a cricket chirp.
posted by gucci mane at 7:10 AM on December 31, 2018


Although I am decidedly the where-are-all-these-damn-crickets-coming-from person in the house, I can relate a funny-slash-terrifying thing that happened to the cricket-releaser last summer that was entirely not his fault.

We have lots of native crickets on the property (and, thankfully, lots of native fence lizards). In the summer we usually leave the back door open as part of our air flow management system. It is screened but turns out maybe not as well as we'd like.

Hubby was lying in bed reading on his phone in an otherwise completely dark room, when suddenly a cricket jumped onto the screen.

It'd been a while since I'd been woken from a dead sleep by such a blood-curdling scream.
posted by vignettist at 9:39 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


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