Tuesday, 6 June 2023


About 250 million years ago, our once silent world became a cacophony of diverse animal sounds. 

One of the most lyrical of those voices to join the Earth's chorus were the true crickets. We can count them as some of the earliest musicians on the planet. 

This group evolved and contributed to the nocturnal circumambience of our planet a full 150 million years before our human ancestors would have heard them for the very first time. It is their long lineage that I am mindful of when I am out for an evening stroll and hear their pleasing serenade.

If you find yourself out in the woods and are wondering what the temperature might be, you need only slip closer to the nearest stand of deciduous trees to follow the musical sounds of the wee Snowy Tree Cricket, Oecanthus Fultoni, part of the order orthoptera.

Snowy Tree Crickets and their cousins double as thermometers and wee garden predators, dining on aphids and other wee beasties. Weather conditions, both hot and cold, alter the speed at which they rub the base of their wings together and consequently regulate their rate of chirping.

Listen closely for their tell-tale high pitch triple chirp sound in the early evening. Being in Canada, our crickets chirp in Celsius. To figure out the temperature, we simply count the number of chirps over a seven-second period and add five to learn the local temperature.

If did not happen to bring your calculator and you are still operating in old-school Fahrenheit, you can use this handy conversion — double the temperature in Celsius, add 32 you'll get the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit. And if you are not all that interested in the temperature, enjoy their pleasing serenade as you take your early evening stroll. They've been working on this number for millions of years. 

Daniel Otte from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia did up a wonderful piece on the evolution of cricket songs. If you’re a keen bean & want to learn more, I'll attach the journal article for you. https://doi.org/10.2307/3503559. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3503559