Crickets


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The broad-winged tree cricket calls day and night, his almost continuous trill like a more sonorous version of the sound that old-fashioned dial-up modems used to make. And in fact his main frequency of 3 kHz is just about the same as a telephone signal, but his pulse rate is a paltry 25 per second, which is less than a quarter as fast as the earliest true modems, the 110-baud Bell 101 devices developed in the 1950s to transmit data for the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) system. If the cricket in my garden were a modem, he would take half a day to download the simplest, text-only web page.

As for the field cricket who’s made his way inside and now calls from a corner behind the couch, I think he’s saying sleep sleep sleep at a volume guaranteed to make sleep impossible. Jiminy! Maybe I’ll just stay up and surf the web.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

6 Comments


  1. Every day when I am swimming (it’s an outdoor, uncovered pool), I invite crickets to climb onto my finger so I can deposit them on the concrete deck and touch them so they’ll jump toward the grass instead of back in the pool. My husband is the designated frog rescuer, for frogs that get into the pool and can’t get out. Sometimes it’s quite a merry chase.

    I enjoyed your broad-winged cricket mp3. I listened to locusts in our trees yesterday. The sound was so loud it seemed to almost shimmer, in waves, like heat.

    Reply

    1. Yeah, dog day cicadas really provide the soundtrack for summer, don’t they? Or at least the diurnal part of it.

      Your pool sounds more like a pond. Maybe you should just plant some lily pads for the frogs.

      Reply

  2. How do you know it’s 25 per second? You must be able to count very fast! In ‘The Cricket on the Hearth’ it was supposed to be very lucky to have a cricket in your home…

    I liked your lepidoptera haiku very much too.

    Reply

    1. Thanks. No, I can’t count that fast! That’s the figure given in Lang Elliott’s wonderful guide, The Songs of Insects.

      I know a cricket on the hearth is supposed to be lucky, but if I can catch the little bastard, it’s not going to be his lucky day.

      Reply

  3. Well, the cricket only has one message to send… over and over.

    Reply

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