How—and why—do crickets make their notoriously annoying chirp? We thought you were wondering, so we’d like to share the science behind it. (Before we get into it, some people actually enjoy the chirping sound. In China, for example, it’s considered good luck!)
First, not all crickets chirp—only certain species do. And in the ones that do, it’s only the males that chirp. They do it to attract females (can’t really fault them for that, can you?) and to establish the boundaries of their territory.
The chirp is produced through a technique called stridulation, in which the cricket rubs his wings together extremely quickly. At the bottom of each wing are serrated teeth, like a comb. The chirping is produced by the cricket rubbing the teeth on the bottom of one wing across the top of the other wing.
The male cricket’s chirp can be heard from up to a mile away. In fact, crickets use a sort of makeshift technology to amplify their chirp even more: male crickets dig an acoustic burrow in the ground with small holes at the top (sort of like a flute) and sing their hearts out. The mechanics of this burrow significantly amplify the amplitude of the chirping.
The male’s chirping will only attract females of his specific species, who are obviously attuned to a very specific frequency of vibrations. When the male detects that the female is near, he’ll switch up his game, chirping at a lower, more seductive frequency. If all goes well, after his sweet-nothings are whispered, the two crickets will mate.
You may be intrigued by the science behind the cricket’s chirp. But that may not make it any less annoying. If Nassau crickets are keeping you up at night (or if any other Nassau pests are bothering you) give us a call so you can rest easy.