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GRANDMA SAYS: Chirping about the heat wave!

Common field cricket
Common field cricket

I think it's safe to say we've enjoyed more warm summer evenings this year than we have in a long time. I've noticed many people eating outside, walking late into the evening, even just sitting out. The weather is pleasant but so is the chorus of crickets; they've been putting on evening concerts for a few weeks now. 

Not everyone enjoys the sound of crickets but I find it very soothing. When I was little, Grandma told me those adorable little crickets were also very useful. With a little math and some patience, crickets could help you determine how warm it is without having to check the thermometer. 

You'll need a stop watch of some kind and a quiet place. Count the number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide by 3, and then add 4. That will give you the temperature in degrees Celsius. If you'd rather know the temperature in Fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and add 37. 

So, how do crickets make that chirping sound? 

Usually, the males are the "singers." The male cricket rubs the sharp ridge on his wing called a scraper, against a series of wrinkles, or "files", on the other wing. It’s believed crickets chirp at different rates depending on their species and the air temperature; the warmer the weather, the greater the number of chirps.

I later learned that Grandma was not the first to make a connection between cricket chirps and the temperature. The relationship between temperature and the rate of chirping is known as Dolbear's Law. It was formulated by Amos Dolbear and published in 1897 in an article called "The Cricket as a Thermometer."

Give it a try! I think you'll find it quite accurate, not to mention soothing!

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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