The Bugs of Bernheim: Crickets (Orthoptera)

By Claude Stephens

Photo credit: Herbert A. "Joe" Pase III, Texas Forest Service
Photo credit: Herbert A. “Joe” Pase III, Texas Forest Service

Orthoptera are named because their primary wings are straight.  There are more than 27,000 different species of orthoptera that include grasshoppers, katydids, crickets and locusts.

[In Greek:  Ortho = straight, and Ptera = wings]

Crickets are one member of the insect order Orthoptera, but they can also be used as a sort of natural thermometer.  We don’t suggest that using this formula is absolutely accurate but you can get a good approximation of the outside air temperature in Fahrenheit by using this formula:

Count the number of cricket chirps in 14 seconds and add forty.

[If you count 20 chirps in 14 seconds then the outside temperature is about 60°F]

Many members of this insect group make their characteristic sounds by rubbing their wings or their legs against each other or against a row of protruding bumps on their exoskeleton.  Their loud summer songs are used to locate one another for reproduction.  Females are listening for their favorite singers while males are trying to be the favored singer.  Each species has a distinct call.  Practiced entomologists (scientists that study insects) can tell what species of orthoptera are about, and get a good sense for the population size, by listening carefully for the different songs.

In this short Youtube video you can hear, and see, an oblong katydid singing by rubbing its wings together.

Bernheim is proud to be a healthy forest, which provides a home to many creatures, even the smallest ones – insects. The Bugs of Bernheim is a blog series that will celebrate our six and eight-legged friends. Join us each year on the third Saturday in September at Bernheim’s annual BugFest, where you can see a variety of bugs, dance the buggy boogie, and even sample some tasty insect treats.

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