Aug 23 2010

Thermometer

Published by at 7:44 am under Insects, Fish, Frogs

The sounds of nature in Pennsylvania are dominated by different groups of animals as the growing season progresses.  Here’s my own list of who “sounds off” and when:

  • March and early April: Frogs
  • April, May, early June: Birds
  • mid-June, July, August: Bugs

I don’t have to tell you the bugs are loud right now, especially cicadas and katydids, but the crickets start and end the “bug noise” season with their chorus in mid June that continues right up to the first frost.  Until it freezes crickets don’t seem to care what temperature it is.  They just chirp faster in the heat, slower in the cold.

Did you know you can use a cricket’s chirp almost like a thermometer?  Count the number of chirps of a lone cricket for 15 seconds, than add 37.  Ta dah!  That’s the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit.

I’ve found this formula works well on a chilly September evening because the cricket chirps are distinct and slow, but it failed my ad hoc test this morning.  It is not 84 degrees.  I overcounted.

Meanwhile, I was not the only one listening to that cricket chirp.  This female cricket would be listening too.  (You can tell she’s a female by her long ovipositor.)  The male whose chirps are most attractive will be her mate.  Click here to hear for yourself.

(drawing of a female common black cricket, Gryllus assimlis, by R.E.Snodgrass of USDA, in the public domain, from Wikimedia.  The sound link is for a fall field cricket, Gryllus Pennsylvanicus.)

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