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Understanding crickets

Chirping crickets are a hallmark of summer. They get in the house and sing too. Whether they're chirping in the bushes or under your bed, they're an interesting insect.

Radio interview source: Donald Lewis, Extension Entomologist, Iowa State University

 
It's relaxing to sit on the porch on a warm summer evening and listen to the crickets. However, it's hard to appreciate them when they get in the house and you  can't find them.
 
Donald Lewis is an extension entomologist at Iowa State University. He says the melodic chirping sound is made by the males when they rub their wings together. He says "it's a guy thing."
 
"An announcement to other guys, other males, that I am here, this is mine, you move out, I was here first," he says. "And the other of course is the males are trying to attract attention of the females. The chirp for a cricket is the equivalent of hey baby, hey baby, hey baby, and they're trying to attract females over to them for mating."
 
Crickets live in weeds, shrubbery and trees. They feed on plants and plant debris, but usually not enough to cause any damage.  
 
The crickets that get in houses are black field crickets, and Lewis says they are accidental invaders. They might keep you up at night with their chirping, but crickets don't bite or sting, and don't pass along any diseases to humans. 
 
The snowy tree cricket is one species that can indicate the temperature. It's a pale, green color, almost white, and lives in shrubbery and woodland areas throughout the U.S.
 
"It has a very rhythmic, very continuous chirp," says Lewis. "The snowy tree cricket can be used for estimating the temperature by counting the number of chirps in 15-seconds, and adding 40. But, it's only that one species of cricket that works, and so you're going to have to be able to pick out that cricket from all of the others.

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