Origins: Crickets chirp by rubbing their wings or legs over each other. Yet it is only the males of the species that make this noise — they do so to attract mates. Therefore, when you're happily listening to the soothing sound of crickets chirping, you're actually eavesdropping on a courting ritual meant to warn off other lust-filled male crickets and to draw interested females to the ones doing the
The notion that counting the chirps of crickets can serve as an informal way of working out the temperature is not new — in 1897, physicist Amos Dolbear proposed the reverse of that idea, stating outdoor temperature determined the number of cricket calls one would hear. Over the years, his way of looking at this relationship was turned around — people now count the chirps to get the temp rather than consult the thermometer to figure out how many cricket calls they will hear.
We've encountered a variety of "cricket chirp thermometer formulas" over the years. One specifies counting the chirps over a
The formula endorsed by The Old Farmer's Almanac seems the most reliable. Says that esteemed tome:
Example: 30 chirps + 40 = 70° F
To convert cricket chirps to degrees Celsius, count number of chirps in
Example: 48 chirps ÷ 3 + 4 = 20° C
Now, granted, this mode of determining the temperature will work only when there are crickets about. Also, it's accurate only down to
Barbara "cold shouldered" Mikkelson
Last updated: 3 December 2007
Dolbear, Amos E. "The Cricket As a Thermometer." The American Naturalist. Vol. 31, No. 371. November 1897 (pp. 970-971). Hubbard, David. "Crickets Can Tell Us the Temperature, But Sometimes They Just Want a Date." Birmingham News. 8 July 2007 (p. D3). Shingleton, Pat. "Weather News." The Advocate. 5 July 2007 (p. B8). Contra Costa Times. "Song of the Male Cricket Sweet Music to Her Ears." 17 June 2007. Sacramento Bee. "Ask Scoopy." 9 September 2007 (p. B8).