How to kill a Parktown Prawn


While there are some folk that are fond of critters and insects, there are those that aren’t. By assumption, I’d say that a vast majority of the population are not. I for one, am part of the latter group of people, and the mere site of an insect is enough to send shivers down my spine. Franticly searching the pantry cupboard for a can of insecticide, while eyeballing the little bastard (careful not to lose sight of it), is usually my first response to any insect encounter. And when that can is found, I am not afraid to say that I go in with guns blazing, the aftermath of what resembles a battlefield of chemical warfare!

This technique of dealing with pests has been tried and tested, and works like a charm for most insects. I reiterate ‘most insects’ for there are some that seem to be immune to commercial insecticides. One such insect is the Parktown Prawn.



Photo Credit: The Conversation

Resembling its distant cousin, this species of insect has been classified as part of the King Cricket family due its enormous size. Growing up to 7 cm in length, the Parktown Prawn is fully equipped with a stocky body, long whip like antennae, large mandibles and oversized rear legs all covered in a tough deep red exoskeleton. Frightening many a home owner, it is hard to miss and an encounter is sure to leave one with nightmares for some time after.



Habitat and Activity

Suburbs! Where lush, green gardens are plentiful and dirt is in abundance. A nocturnal creature, they usually rear their ugly heads after rainstorms, where they cautiously navigate open spaces with the hope of either breeding or setting up a new home. This is when they tend to enter houses (usually through an open window or the gap underneath the door) much to the fright of residents.



Defense Mechanism

They tend to emit a hissing type of sound to ward off any nearby threats. Should that prove ineffective, they are known to pinch anything that comes into contact with them. Also they tend to release a black like faecal liquid that not only smells foul, but is sure to leave a stain on any light coloured fabric. With their oversized rear legs, they are able to jump over a meter in the air.



This is what I find most interesting about this extraordinary insect. Nobody can say for certain where they are from, and scientists are of the opinion that the Park Town Prawn is an evolved species. The first specimen was discovered in the 1800’s in Barberton, while the first sighting in Johannesburg was made in the 60’s in the suburb of Park Town.


How to Kill

While commercial insecticides prove useless against the Parktown Prawn, one could always opt for the age old method of extermination, where rubber sole meets floor in an action packed jam that resembles a scene from ‘Stomp the Yard’. The problem with this method is that, firstly one has to be in the close proximity to the insect, and not being able to anticipate when this creature decides to jump can be quite nerve wrecking. The second problem with this method, is having to clean up the bug juice after the extermination which is never a good sight.


GH Method

Thanks to the team at Gadget Hunters, we have found a safe and easy way of dealing with this pesky pest. Not only efficient, but rather clean too, this method is by far the most effective way to get rid of any unwanted guests.

Gadgets Required:

  1. Bucket
  2. Toy water pistol
  3. Some dishwashing liquid soap
  4. Brave assistant


  1. Mix some dishwashing liquid with water. The solution must not be too liquid neither too thick. Getting the correct mix here can be tedious, so our advice is to keep things simple and to dilute the dishwashing liquid with just enough water to allow for the solution to be sprayed out of the water pistol.
  2. Ask the ‘brave assistant’ to cover the pest using the bucket (turned upside down). This is to secure the insect to one confined location.
  3. With the water pistol loaded, you are now ready to take aim.
  4. Ask the assistant to lift the bucket just high enough to allow for a clean shot. Be cautious here as once the solution comes into contact with the insect, it is going to go berserk.
  5. Replace bucket and go have a cup of tea.
  6. Return and lift away the bucket. Parktown Prawn should be vanquished.
  7. Dispose of corpse, no clean up of bug juice necessary.