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A Chinese boy’s love for bugs has gone viral in China. Photo: SCMP composite

‘Real worms are not scary’: Chinese boy defangs bugs and hosts field trips for insect lovers, earns 10 million fans

  • The child is on a mission to prove that insects are not scary, but valuable members of our ecosystem
  • He has gained his knowledge through reading and expeditions with adults

A nine-year-old boy in southern China is on a mission to turn bugs from creepy crawlies to the interesting and extremely important creatures that they are.

While many people in urban China are disgusted, or scared of, insects, the primary-school boy, named Zhang Heyi, understands that they form one of the most crucial factors supporting the health of our ecosystem.

Furthermore, Zhang is leveraging social media to try and spread the word that our cohabitants are not worth worrying about.

“Now, many people are scared of worms, but real worms are not scary,” he said.

Zhang inspects a praying mantis that will later crawl on his head. Photo: Baidu

In a viral video, Zhang, resting his head on a table, stares at a praying mantis as it climbs onto his forehead. The boy smiles. Next, he is seen grabbing a few cockroaches that have managed to escape their holding pen.

“I have a hobby. I love bugs.”

Zhang won a “Walking Encyclopaedia” award at school for his knowledge of insects, and the boy said he likes to interact with his schoolmates by talking about bugs.


“My classmates come to me if they discover bugs at school, and I also try to share my findings with them,” he said.

Equipped with extensive knowledge about bugs, Zhang often acts like a teacher when his classmates ask him questions.

“How does a cockroach hunt?” A teacher asked Zhang in front of her pupils.

“With its front legs,” Zhang said.


“How big is the biggest stag beetle?” A schoolmate asked.

“Over 8cm. Oh wait, probably closer to 9cm,” Zhang replied.

Zhang teaches his classmate about his love for bugs. Photo: Baidu

Zhang is no johnny-come-lately when it comes to social media stardom. The boy already has 10 million fans on Douyin, under the name The insect work of Qiqi, referring to his nickname.


His latest story, posted in August, has received 236,000 views and 72,000 comments.

Zhang said he has learned about insects by reading books and going on night expeditions. He usually goes out with children his age, along with some adults with flashlights.

They usually stop to observe the insects and often see a range of them, such as dragonflies, mantises, cockroaches, ants and moths.

Zhang goes out on a night trip hunting for insects. Photo: Baidu

Zhang added that he dreams of enrolling in an agricultural university when he grows up.


Many online users were encouraged by the story of Zhang.

One said: “He proves that curiosity is the best teacher in life.”

Another said: “I do wish more children can put down their smartphones and enjoy themselves in nature.”