Discover Nature: Crickets Gauge the Temperature

Aug 4, 2019

August 9 - August 15

Discover Nature this week as you use the song of Fall Field Crickets to calculate the temperature.

When we think of watching wildlife, we usually think about birds or deer or turkeys. But our state has many insects, like crickets, that are just as interesting and just as beautiful as other wildlife.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, a male field cricket will make a slow series of chirps on warm nights to attract a mate, when the temperature is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually, they’ll chirp about two or three times per second.

The formula to convert cricket chirps to degrees Fahrenheit can be found in the Old Farmer’s Almanac. First, count the number of chirps that occur within 14 seconds, then, add 40 to the number of chirps and the sum will tell you what the temperature is.

For example, if the cricket chirps 30 times in 14 seconds, you would add 40 to the 30 chirps and know that the temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fall Field crickets are found in summer and fall mainly in grassy habitats, feeding on plant and animal matter. Though crickets can sometimes damage vegetable crops, they also bring a benefit by consuming the eggs and pupae of pests and scavenging dead insects. 

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, insects perform so many important functions - like breaking down decaying matter, keeping soil healthy and serving as a food source for other animals in the food chain - we might not be able to survive without them. And the entertainment Fall Field Crickets provide by telling the temperature is just one more benefit for us to enjoy.

To keep track of current natural events like when to listen for the Fall Field Cricket, you can get your own Natural Events Calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.