The sound of crickets chirping the night away is simultaneously comforting and mysterious. These family Gryllidae insects chirp as a means of communication, usually related to mating and territory. Chirping is a behavior that is exclusive to the boys; females simply listen to the calls and follow them to find mates.
How Crickets Chirp
Cricket chirping -- or stridulation -- is the often loud soundtrack under many night skies, since these insects are at their busiest when it's dark outside. Making the sound is not a difficult task. Male crickets simply massage their wings against each other. Male crickets' wings often feature coarse and tough patches that are responsible for the sounds. Crickets of both sexes are capable of hearing chirps, specifically the vibrations, using hearing organs situated on their front limbs.
Desire to Breed
The desire to find a breeding partner is a major cause behind much of the cricket chirping. Male crickets frequently partake in chirping contests where they try to outdo each other. The goal is to impress nearby females with the highest quality chirps, thereby winning mates. Female crickets to endure lengthy flight journeys to follow the chirps.
Crickets can be crafty about their chirping. Some are so fussy that they only chirp from places they believe produce the best sound quality.
Territorial and dominant feelings often fuel chirping in male crickets. If a male is worried that another individual is encroaching on his turf, he might chirp as a sort of alert message -- "Back off, because these are my digs and mine alone." When male crickets partake in turf-oriented disputes with each other, their fierce "songs" stand apart from mating chirps both in intensity and speed.
Chirping Fun Facts
The cricket universe consists of a wide array of seemingly endless species. Particularly tiny crickets generally aren't "chirpers," and instead rely on touch and smell to convey messages. Those that chirp use different songs than other species of crickets so the females know which males to fly to for mating. A cricket's chirping also might be able to provide you with handy clues about the weather outside. If a cricket's chirp seems a little sluggish and tired, it might be cold outdoors. If it's a speedy chirp, it usually signifies warmer weather.
- University of Minnesota Extension: Crickets
- Ohio Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden: Why Do Crickets Chirp?
- Animal Planet: Cricket
- University of Michigan BioKids: Crickets
- Wildlife Journal Junior: Gryllidae- True Crickets
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Cricket
- Cornell Center for Materials Research: Archives of Ask A Scientist!
- The University of Arizona Center for Insect Science Education Outreach: Cricket Information