When sleeping, you briefly open your eyes at night, and you can’t get back to sleep from the loud noise of cricket somewhere in the house. So you put on the lights and follow the sound, but it’s nowhere to be found.
Like humans, insects have a way of expressing themselves, and one of the ways they do that is by making different sounds. Learning about the sounds and how they make them is worthwhile. Read on and learn what makes the crickets chirp and how they do it.
How does a cricket make sound?
Crickets make sounds through a process called stridulation. It involves rubbing specific body parts to make a unique sound. They rub the edge of their wings to make sharp, rhythmic sounds. Crickets chirp to distract predators, attract females, threaten others, and when temperatures go up.
Sexual dimorphism in crickets is identified when making the sounds, given that only the male cricket makes the sounds.
On the tip of their wings is a unique sharp structure known as the scrapper. To make the sound, the cricket will lift the wings at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. Then, it passes the scrapper on one wing under the twisty edge of the other wing. The friction between the two is what creates the sounds.
Interestingly, crickets make sounds on account of their surroundings and chemical reactions within its body.
Crickets are cold-blooded. As such, when the room temperatures adjust, they will react to the changing environment. A rise in the room temperature prompts an aggravated chemical reaction in a cricket’s body.
The chemicals responsible for the cricket chirping are released, energizing the crickets to make the sounds more aggressive. It explains why you’re more likely to hear the crickets chirping during summer compared to winter.
When it’s hot, the crickets will chirp faster due to the increased friction from the muscle contractions. The sound that specific crickets make is attributable to the kind of cricket chirping.
Some make rhythmic sounds in bits, while others will have one prolonged sound made at the same volume level repeated severally.
Since crickets are nocturnal, they are more active at night, which explains why their chirping sounds are higher and more noticeable at night.
Why crickets chirp
The reasons crickets chirp include:
- A male cricket is trying to attract a female.
- A male cricket is at war with a fellow male cricket.
- The cricket is alerting other crickets of a predator in their territory.
- Reaction to temperature changes.
These are the main reasons why the crickets will make loud sounds.
1. Attract Females
In the cricket world, it’s the males that make the noises. The primary reason is to impress and attract a female suitor. The loud notice repels fellow males while attracting the females. Interestingly, the male crickets will make the sounds to help the female locate them.
If more than one cricket chirps, the female is attracted to the loud, high-pitched voice coming from the younger males as opposed to the hoarse sound from older males.
Once they meet, the male will celebrate by chirping some more and, throughout the brief courtship, entertain the female. The mating will begin soon after, and the chirping will continue, but this time it’s to entice the female cricket to stick around and not entertain other males.
The final chirping is more selfish to prevent the female from mating with other males. The male’s chirp at this point will be highly pitched to entertain the guest.
2. Males About to Go to War
Another reason the male cricket will chirp is to discourage other males from invading the already marked territory. The chirping is different from the mating chirps.
The aim is to distract the other males and alert them to leave the area. As a result, the males not located by the female will leave the scene to avoid confrontations and getting into physical fights.
3. Distract Predators
At times the crickets will chirp to thwart an impending attack. Since the crickets can make different sounds, they will utilize ventriloquism to confuse the attacker about their exact position.
The crickets will use varying frequencies when chirping, distracting the attacker. During this time, when the predator is confused about the whereabouts of the cricket, it takes advantage and escapes saving its life.
Chirping at this point acts as a warning sign to other crickets within the area, alerting them to vacate the area if there’s a predator around.
4. Reaction to Temperature Changes
When the temperatures increase, crickets generally chirp more than when it’s cold. This has been noted many times with a reduction in temperature being used as the remedy to keep crickets from chirping.
Risks that Chirping Could Cause the Crickets
Although making the sounds brings good tidings for the male cricket, it can also be a cause of discourse.
First, continuous chirping can easily sell out the location of the cricket to a predator. If the crickets don’t spot the attacker in good time, the chirping will help the predator get to it unawares.
Secondly, the chirping can attract parasites. The sounds from the crickets also attract parasites such as the ormia flies, which attack the crickets, killing them in the process. The flies place their larvae on the crickets, which eat up the crickets.
How to Stop Crickets from Chirping
Once the crickets start making sounds, it may distract you as it goes on for a while, which can be annoying.
To stop the crickets that have found their way to your house from chirping too much, identify the room where the sounds are coming from. Then, place a small air conditioner in the room, decreasing the temperatures. Since the crickets chirp more under warm temperatures with the conditioner, the chirping will stop.
Secondly, since the crickets make the sounds more aggressively at night in the darker rooms, you could light up the room with an LED light that doesn’t dispense too much heat. This will lower the chirping, given that crickets prefer dark areas, and the light will force them to lower the sounds.
Alternatively, you could get a female cricket and place it closer to the male. This will lower the need for the male cricket to chirp loudly to give the female directions. The only chirping, in this case, will be the one after mating to entice the female to stay longer and scare other males.
Crickets are fun insects to study and keep. Watching the cricket chirp is fascinating; you could think they get tired from keeping the wings at an angle for long as they chirp. However, being a natural process, they are well adapted.
They chirp for many different reasons including attracting males, confusing predators, and even in response to temperature changes.