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Question Can you tell the temperature by listening to the chirping of a cricket?

Answer

Yes!

Life stages of the Mormon cricket: egg, first instar nymph, third instar nymph, and adult female. Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The frequency of chirping varies according to temperature. To get a rough estimate of the temperature in degrees fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature.

The White Sands Interdune Sand-treader camel cricket lives only at White Sands, where they are uniquely adapted to live in gypsum. White Sands National Monument, National Park Service.

So, how do crickets make that chirping sound?

Usually, the males are the “singers.” The male cricket rubs a scraper (a sharp ridge on his wing) against a series of wrinkles, or “files”, on the other wing. The tone of the chirping depends upon the distance between the wrinkles.

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Spectrogram of crickets. At Sound Gallery: Crickets. National Park Service.

There are several reasons why crickets chirp. They may be:

  • Calling to attract a female with a a loud and monotonous sound
  • Courting a nearby female with a quick, softer chirp
  • Behaving aggressively during the encounter of two males
  • Sounding a danger alert when sensing trouble

Crickets are part of the family Orthoptera (grasshoppers and katydids).

Want to learn more about Insects? The Iowa State Entomology Index of Internet Resources is a directory and search engine of insect related resources on the Internet.

Frescoe at Pompeii showing a parrot pulling a chariot driven by a cricket. Lithograph by Giacomo Lenghi, [between 1840 and 1870]. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

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