Saturday, August 31, 2013

Night sounds of late summer

The crickets are back.

For most of the summer, I have not been hearing crickets in the night and I wondered why. I think of their persistent chirping as one of the sounds of summer nights.

Now, after about two weeks of very hot weather, I'm hearing cicadas in the afternoon and crickets after dark. Perhaps our long cool stretch from mid July to late August kept the crickets quiet?

When I tested this question via a Google search, I found several sites that offer a formula for calculating the temperature by counting the number of cricket chirps in a period of time — such as this Library of Congress page — and a few others stating that cool temperatures do indeed suppress chirping.

But what I had forgotten is that it is typical for crickets to start chirping in mid August. That's simply how long it takes for the insects to mature to the chirping stage, which is when they are ready to mate.

One rather poignant blogger describes it as "That sweet, sad sound of summer's end."

And after a long stretch of sweltering weather, I'm pleased that I can finally open my windows and hear the crickets.

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