Forerunners of fall hopping rampant


Crickets are as much a harbinger of fall as those red bulb flowers seen sprouting in yards along Frey Street. They are mostly viewed as a nuisance to contend with for the moment as one waits for the first waves of cool arctic air to blast out the heat of summer.

The nocturnal insect is a member of the order Orthoptera. They are known for the chirping sounds they make at night by rubbing their wings together. 

The mass incursion of the pests is populated by the common field cricket. Not to be confused with their fellow Orthoptera, those locusts that decimated Pa Wilder’s crop in the beloved “Little House” books of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, crickets are relatively harmless. They might prompt a squeamish shudder if they hop onto your leg, but don’t pose a threat to humans, animals or crops. Though crickets might seem creepy, they would only bite a person in self-defense.

Crickets, unlike their cousins the grasshopper and locusts, are omnivorous, which means they aren’t as likely to zero in on your herb garden in a bid to lay waste to your culinary spices. But they will eat just about anything, including rotten produce and other vegetal detritus as well as fellow insects. 

According to Roy Parker, a professor and entomologist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Research and Extension Center, crickets mate in late summer and lay their eggs in early fall. This year's drought conditions likely caused the chirpers to leave the hot ground with intentions of hunting down both water and mates earlier than usual.

And since the insect is going to be hanging around for a while, it might be wise to find something useful that the little varmint can add to an evening’s entertainment.

According to, it is possible to determine outside temperature merely by listening to the chirping of a grasshopper. It seems little Jiminy, who makes his chirping noises by rubbing his wings together, cannot move those forewings as quickly in cooler weather, which results in his making fewer tweeting sounds.

This leaves the basic knowledge of counting and math skills to establish outside temperature. 

Using the stopwatch of a cell phone, count the number of chirps a cricket makes in 15 seconds; then add 37 to the number of chirps tallied. This, according to the Library of Congress, is the approximate outside temperature in Fahrenheit.