Cricket Chorus


13Nov2015
I have always loved the insect chorus, a lullaby through an open window. Just as the sounds themselves fade as the year cools, each cricket voice slows. In 1897 the scientist Dolbear wrote an article called The Cricket As a Thermometer, setting out a complex formula where T is temperature, N is the number of chirps per minute, and to spare you the math several cricket species chirp at a rate that says how warm it is give or take a degree.

Crickets make their sounds through stridulating which is essentially similar to making music moving a spoon along a washboard, except they rub their wings together. They may sit on a leaf or other structure to amplify the sound. Every day now I hear fewer insects. Frost is predicted tonight, so I imagine soon the woods will be silent.

This cricket is less than an inch long, blending in well with the fallen dry leaves on the forest floor. It is looking up at my camera lens, possibly mistaking it for some enormous insect eye. Urbanites of ancient Asia used to travel in the fall to the country to admire insect choruses, sometimes keeping them in their homes where they lived in fancy cages. I considered setting up an insect inn, but my dog views the home as his so that wouldn’t work. Instead I count the chirps as a cold wind rushes through the evening forest. There is sadness in the vanishing voices, but their slow song in the dark is an important message, make music while you can.