Why do crickets chirp?

The main, most important reason that crickets chirp is to attract and court a mate that they can reproduce with.  Each species has its own unique chirp that is identifiable to the females of that species (only the males chirp).  Scientists have observed that female crickets are more attracted to a particular type of chirp sound: one from a dominant male.   More recent studies even show that female crickets prefer the higher pitched, louder sounds of younger males over the deeper chirps of older males.  When a female is interested in a male’s chirp, she will turn her body to face the direction of the chirp.   This response is known as phonotaxis.

New research shows that crickets actually respond to sound similar to dolphins!

But, not all male crickets chirp. Researchers from the University of California have been studying crickets in Hawaii for over 20 years and they have discovered that certain species of crickets have stopped chirping in order to avoid a parasitic predator.   A tachinid fly known as Ormia Ochracea targets singing crickets and lays its eggs right on them.  When the eggs hatch, the maggots invade the crickets body and live inside it until they become adults.  When they reach adulthood, they will tear they way out of the poor cricket, killing him (if he has not already died).   As the research group continued monitoring Hawaii’s crickets, they discovered that more and more of the crickets were becoming silent.   Within 10 years,  90% of the cricket species had developed flat wings that were incapable of producing sound.   That is just one example of how incredible mother nature’s adaptations can be.

How do crickets chirp?

Male crickets create their chirps by rubbing their forewings together.  One side of the wings contains a jagged edge.  When the flat side of the wing rubs against the jagged side, this produces the chirp sound.   Cricket males generally have three distinct song types.  The “calling song” is the rhythmic, familiar chirp that you typically hear on a summer night.   Its main purpose is just to attract some females.   Then, there is the “courtship song”, which features faster, deeper sounding chirps. This particular song is used when a male is right about to mate.    Finally, there is the “aggressive song”, which is a loud trill most often produced as two male crickets fight.

Did you know crickets have ears on their knees?  Discover how crickets hear>>


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