Discover nature this week with crickets in Missouri.
The cricket’s song can recall the carefree summer days of childhood. But usually, we reduce the chirping to background noise.
Field and house crickets are common and can be found in many habitats, especially grassy areas such as lawns, fields, pastures, prairies, roadsides, but also in woods. Their wide-ranging diet and ability to sing has made them popular pets at different times in various cultures, as they can survive on a variety of foods.
While crickets sing during both the day and night, their song is most often heard after dark when competing sounds are gone. Their chirping seems incessant. One account records a single cricket chirping 2,640 times without stopping.
The cricket’s chirp may just be background noise to us, but it’s quite important to other crickets. Crickets call primarily to attract females; the males produce the chirping by rubbing a sharp-edge scraper at the base of one front wing along a file-like ridge on the bottom edge of the other front wing. Females are attracted to the sound and to the male cricket producing it.
Temperature affects the cricket’s song. A cricket chirps quickly during warm weather and slows when the temperatures cool. The common field cricket has a call so synchronized with the surrounding temperature that you can calculate the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees by counting the number of chirps in 14 seconds and adding 40.
Why not really listen to a cricket? If you’re feeling scientific, figure out the temperature. But if you’re feeling nostalgic, just let the song carry you back to childhood.
Learn more about Missouri crickets at MissouriConservation.org.