New This Month

You Can Tell How Hot It Is Outside Just by Listening to the Crickets

These insects are the original meteorologists.

Cricket on leaf
Photography by: sandra standbridge / Getty

Crickets aren't just musicians, they're meteorologists, too!

 

It turns out that the unmistakable sound of males trying to attract females can also help you determine air temperature. All you need to do is listen closely and pay attention.  

 

In an 1897 article titled "The Cricket as a Thermometer," scientist Amos Dolbear explained the relationship between heat and the frequency of a cricket's chirps. Cricket chirps occur when a male rubs his wings together rapidly. According to Dolbear, lower temperatures cause cricket muscle contractions to slow, meaning crickets rub their wings less when it's cold, thus creating fewer chirping sounds. Hotter weather allows for speedier muscle contractions and therefore, more chirping.  

 

Related: Why You Can Expect Most of the United States to be Hot This Summer

 

So, the next time you find yourself lying in bed on a sticky summer night listening to the chirping of lovesick crickets, try this experiment. Choose one cricket and count how many times it chirps in 14 seconds. According to Scientific American, simply add that number to 40 and you'll have the approximate outdoor air temperature in Fahrenheit.

 

So, for example, if you count 30 chirps in 14 seconds, the approximate air temperature is 70 degrees.

 

Compare your cricket estimate to the reading on an outdoor thermometer and see how close you get to the actual air temperature. The accuracy might surprise you!

 

This article originally appeared on Southern Living by Meghan Overdeep.