Summary: Crickets are insects somewhat related to grasshoppers and more closely related to katydids or bush crickets known for their chirp.
Crickets got their name from the French word œCriquer", meaning œlittle creaker. In some cultures crickets were valued house pets that were not caged. Many folk tales feature crickets living free in a favored spot in the house - often near the hearth, wood stove or oven, not likely in our bug-adverse society.
Generally, only male crickets sing and the relative amount of cricket sounds produced varies within a population, some males being better songsters than others. Each male advertises his presence and prowess by scratching together the bases of his forewings, which are ridged like tiny washboards. Each stroke creates a single chirp, and the cricket's sounds consist of a series of chirps called a trill. Like the communications of many ***image1***males, the trill carries two meanings, a come-hither message for females and the opposite for competing males. Females can tell how big a male is just by listening to the pitch of the song. The big males usually win the courtship battle.
A cricket sound is distinct for each species, and indeed, a well seasoned field biologist can tell how many species of crickets there are in an area simply by listening, somewhat like a good birder! Crickets produce their sounds by rubbing their forewings against each other. They rub a sharp edge of their fore wing (scraper) against a file like ridge (file) on the other forewing to produce a chirping sound. Each wing has a scraper and file, and the cricket uses both the wings alternately. This method of chirping is scientifically known as stridulation
To human ears, the field may sound full of crickets all calling at once, but the males take turns. If two males call at the same time, one will fall silent and move a respectful distance away. A female, on the other hand, homes in on the most robust trill, with mating on her mind. Female crickets will not respond to just any male cricket. The male must sing a song specific to her species. This discrimination is so specific, one scientist found that female hybrids prefer the song of identically crossbred males.
Cricket chirps are mostly heard in summers and on warm evenings. Crickets do not chirp in the winter because of the cold. And, yes, there is a method to calculating temperature with cricket chrips. Temperature=50+ (Number of chirps per minute-40)/4. Click here to see a cricket chirp calculator.
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