Last week I wrote about the Katydid, a favorite midsummer night noise. Katydids aren’t up in the canopy singing an insect solo. The alto you hear is the Snowy Tree Cricket (Oecanthus fultoni).
The Snowy Tree Cricket is also known as the thermometer cricket. Go outside after dark and listen to them as they chirp in unison. Count the number of chirps in given in 13 seconds; add 40 and you will have the approximate temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. For example, last night (around midnight) I counted 25 chirps in 13 seconds. 25 + 40 = 65F. Comparing this to my actual thermometer, the temperature was 66 F. Not bad for a bug!
Snowy Tree Crickets are not indicators of frozen precipitation. Their bodies are pale, hence the “snowy” part of their name. They, like the Katydid, are insects of the canopy. They are omnivores and fond of aphids. Male crickets chirp by stridulating. Simply put, they rub their wings together in a way that is similar to rubbing your thumb down the teeth of a comb.
As the days get shorter and nights get cooler, test the thermometer cricket’s ability by listening to their synchronous stridulations. You’ll notice the chirps get slower and slower and s l o w e r as autumn approaches.