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Question:

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

Answer:    

    Yes!

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.

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.

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.

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Library of Congress Web SiteFurther Reading
  • Berger, Melvin. Chirping crickets. New York, Harper Collins, c.1998. 32. p. (Juvenile Literature)
  • Dethier, Vincent Gaston. Crickets and katydids, concerts and solos. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1992. 140 p.
  • Helfer, Jacques R. How to know the grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches and their allies. New York, Dover. 1987. 363 p. (enlarged republication of the second edition:1972)
  • Johnson, Sylvia A. Chirping insects. Minneapolis, Lerner Pub., 1986. 47 p. (Juvenile Literature)

SearchFor more print resources...
Search on "cricket," "chirping insect," or "chirping cricket" in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Image: two crickets viewed from above.
Female (left) an Male (right) crickets
Image by Jim Mason. From the Great Plains Nature Center web site.

Photo: close up of a cricket on the trunk of a tree.
Photo from The Animal Welfare Information Center Web site.

Photo: a very light green colored cricket on a leaf.
Snowy Tree Cricket at Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico. From the Nationa Park Service Web site.

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  August 9, 2011
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