Friday, August 19, 2011

Cricket Song

This time of year the crickets are chirping away. While in bed last night, I was enjoying their song, and thinking back on cricket memories.

I have many many good memories of crickets. As a child, it seemed like they were everywhere, especially around the large boulders that lined our long gravel driveway. We would catch them along with grasshoppers, and put them in glass mayonnaise jars to observe for a while before letting them go. Of course we did this with lightning bugs and snakes and caterpillars and butterflies, too. Crickets were tricky to catch, though, because you would seek them out based on their chirps, but when you approached they would clam up and hide. Later on, as teenagers cruising around with the windows open on the country roads late at night, we could hear them as we sped by and especially at the corners when we had to (sort of) stop.

Then there is a tough memory that rears its ugly head here and there, and that is when I was first separated from my husband, and I would be in my bed at night listening, wondering what they heck I was going to do, and how I was going to raise my son alone and keep my house. Meanwhile the crickets merrily chirped away as if the world hadn't come to an end. My stomach flops whenever I think of that dark period in my life.

But here I am, ten years after that life-changing August, and in the most content and happy place that I have ever experienced. I listen to the crickets and think about how despite what happens in our little lives, crickets and the rest of nature keep rolling along, summer by summer, season by season.

Some cricket info from Wikipedia:

The sound emitted by crickets is commonly referred to as chirping; the scientific name is stridulation. Only the male crickets chirp. The sound is emitted by the stridulatory organ, a large vein running along the bottom of each wing, covered with "teeth" (serration) much like a comb. The chirping sound is created by running the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing. As he does this, the cricket also holds the wings up and open, so that the wing membranes can act as acoustical sails. It is a popular myth that the cricket chirps by rubbing its legs together.

There are four types of cricket song: The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female cricket is near, and is a very quiet song. An aggressive song is triggered by chemoreceptors on the antennae that detect the near presence of another male cricket and a copulatory song is produced for a brief period after a successful mating.

Crickets chirp at different rates depending on their species and the temperature of their environment. Most species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is (approximately 62 chirps a minute at 13°C in one common species; each species has its own rate). The relationship between temperature and the rate of chirping is known as Dolbear's Law. Using this law it is possible to calculate the temperature in Fahrenheit by adding 40 to the number of chirps produced in 14 seconds by the snowy tree cricket common in the United States.

Ewww - I could never touch one now!

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