UGA student sets state cricket-spitting record

By for CAES News
By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

David Friedman sent a cricket flying 31.55 feet – with his mouth. Now the University of Georgia junior from St. Simons holds the unofficial state record for cricket spitting.

“I would say the secret is you got to get a good lunge forward with the head and diaphragm,” said Friedman, a finance major in UGA’s Terry College of Business. “Put your whole body into it. My sister and I used to see how far we could spit watermelon seeds, so I guess that helped out.”

Friedman’s unusual honor was awarded during an entomology service-learning class this spring.

The cricket-spitting contest is the newest addition to the annual Insect Zoo hosted by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences entomology department. Now in its 24th year, the zoo’s organizers decided it was time to send things hopping.

Cricket spitting started at Purdue University in 1996 when entomology professor Tom Turpin added the competition to the annual Bug Bowl event there. In 1998, Dan Capps from Madison, Wis., set the current Guinness World Record with a cricket spit of 32 feet and a half inch.

UGA entomology program coordinator Marianne Robinette plans to invite Guinness officials to the 2010 insect zoo. She’s hoping a Georgian will set the world record.

For an amateur, Friedman came close.

“My second cricket reached 31.55 feet,” he said. “I would say it was pretty miraculous, almost like a hole in one, but more like an eagle on a par five.”

In addition to reaching the farthest distance, Friedman’s brown house cricket had to land intact – with six legs, four wings and two antennas. And, he had 20 seconds to accomplish this feat.

Robinette was in charge of the rules and regulations for the contest and making sure the crickets were sterilized.

“We soaked them in alcohol, rinsed them in water and froze them,” she said.

Friedman plans to put his honor and his newly gained insect knowledge to use in the future.

“I’ll be the coolest dad in the world because I will know everything about bugs,” he said. “Or if I am ever lost in the wild, I may know what can or can’t harm me, or what I may or may not eat.”

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.