A cricket may seem benign compared to termites and wasps—unless you’re a sensitive sleeper. Many a muggy night I’ve lain awake, tossing and turning and cursing, tormented by crickets’ chirping. If only I’d known about Rest Easy back then!
The scientific word for that repetitive, insomnia-inducing noise a cricket makes is “stridulation.”
The bottoms of their wings are lined with tiny teeth, like a brush. To make the chirping noise, they quickly rub the top of one wing along the teeth of the other wing. It’s usually the male crickets doing this, apparently to attract females and ward off other males. Insects are all cold-blooded, which is why they feel no remorse for annoying us.
Cold-blooded creatures assume the temperature of their surroundings, and this tends to speed up their internal chemical reactions, which speeds up their general movements. So the hotter it gets, the harder it is to sleep, and the louder and faster crickets chirp outside your bedroom window.
It’s a vicious cycle.
In Brazil, cricket chirping is thought to be an omen of coming rain or financial success. In Caraguatatuba, a city in Brazil, a gray cricket is thought to bring money, a black cricket is thought to bring illness, and a green cricket is thought to bring hope. Gray, please! Crickets are fried in oil and eaten in Cambodia and parts of Vietnam. To each their own.
In most other countries, crickets are mainly used as feed for pets like amphibians and reptiles. Here in America, the highest a cricket ever climbed was being a character in the 1940 classic, Pinocchio—though why a cricket would be a boy’s moral guide, we have no idea. Buddy Holly, the man who helped invent rock and roll, chose the name The Crickets for the rest of his band (hopefully not to marginalize them).
Then there’s the ominous *crickets* after a punch line, indicating that the joke missed the mark. Crickets may have their place. But if they’re preventing you from resting easy, we’re here to help.