Perhaps like you, I have been hearing the crickets a lot lately. It seems like they are putting on a free concert every night. But if this was Dick Clark’s American Bandstand’s Rate a Record, I wouldn’t say it has a good beat and is easy to dance to. Actually the beat seems to change depending on the air temperature.
The chirping of crickets is done by the males trying to attract females. The sound is made by the crickets rubbing their wings together. Crickets have scrappers, which are special structures on top of their wings. The chirping sound is made when the crickets raise their wings and run the scrapper of one wing over the wrinkled underside (or file) of the other wing. It would be analogous to running your finger across the teeth of a comb. And because a cricket is cold blooded, their activity is influenced by air temperature. No doubt some of you have heard that the chirping of crickets can be used to estimate outside temperature.
If you count the chirps of a cricket for 14 seconds and add 40, it will give you an estimate of temperature. For example, let’s say a cricket chirped 30 times in 14 seconds. Just add 40 to the 30 and you estimate the air temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, some other sources say to estimate the temperature in Fahrenheit one should count the chirps in 13 or 15 seconds. Others say count the chirps for 15 seconds and add 37. There seems to be an abundance of methods. One method is just too complicated: count the chirps for one minute, subtract 40, divide by 4, and then add 50 to determine the air temperature.
For you Canadians and others that prefer Celsius (which should include all you science types), just count the chirps for 25 seconds and divide by 3, and add 4. For example 48 chirps divided by 3 equals 16, plus 4 = 20 degrees C
But, if the crickets aren’t chirping or you don’t have a time piece you are pretty much out of luck. Then you need to look at a thermometer or just have to give it your best shot: “It feels like it is in the mid 50’s tonight.”
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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