Login / Register

Why Crickets Just Won't Shut Up | Deep Look

Thanks! Share it with your friends!


You disliked this video. Thanks for the feedback!

Sorry, only registred users can create playlists.

 Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science
 Find Related Videos  added


Male crickets play tunes non-stop to woo a mate or keep enemies away. But they're not playing their song with the body part you're thinking.

Please join our community on Patreon!
SUBSCRIBE to Deep Look!

DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.


Ask most people about crickets and youll probably hear that theyre all pretty much the same: just little insects that jump and chirp.

But there are actually dozens of different species of field crickets in the U.S. And because they look so similar, the most common way scientists tell them apart is by the sounds they make.

When I hear an evening chorus, all I hear are the different species, said David Weissman, a research associate in entomology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Weissman has spent the last 45 years working to identify all the species of field crickets west of the Mississippi River. In December, he published his findings in the journal Zootaxa, identifying 35 species of field crickets in the western states, including 17 new species. California alone hosts 12 species. But many closely resemble the others. So even for one of the nations top experts, telling them apart isnt a simple task.

It turns out song is a good way to differentiate, Weissman said.

--- How do crickets chirp?

On the underside of male crickets wings theres a vein that sticks up covered in tiny microscopic teeth, all in a row. Its called the file. There's a hard edge on the lower wing called the scraper.

When he rubs his wings together - the scraper on the bottom wing grates across all those little teeth on the top wing. Its like running your thumb down the teeth of a comb. This process of making sound is called stridulation.

--- How do crickets hear?
Crickets have tiny ears, called tympana on each of their two front legs. They use them to listen for danger and to hear each other calling.

--- Why do crickets chirp?
Crickets have several different types of songs that serve different purposes. The familiar repetitive chirping song is a mating call that male crickets produce to attract females that search for potential mates.

If a female makes physical contact with a male he will typically switch to a second higher-pitched, quieter courtship song.

If instead a male cricket comes in contact with another adult male he will let out an angry-sounding rivalry call to tell his competitor to back off.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

---+ For more information:

Professor Fernando Montealegre-Zs bioacoustics lab

David Weissmans article cataloging field crickets in the U.S.

---+ Shoutout!

Congratulations to the following fans on our YouTube community tab for correctly identifying the name and function of the kidney bean-shaped structure on the crickets tibia - the tympanum, or tympanal organ:

Damian Porter
Red Segui
Ba Ri

---+ Thank you to our Top Patreon Supporters ($10+ per month)!

Alice Kwok
Amber Miller
Aurora Mitchell
Barbara Pinney
Bill Cass
Blanca Vides
Burt Humburg
Caitlin McDonough
Carlos Carrasco
Chris B Emrick
Chris Murphy
Cindy McGill
Companion Cube
Daisuke Goto
Daniel Weinstein
David Deshpande
Dean Skoglund
Edwin Rivas
Elizabeth Ann Ditz
Geidi Rodriguez
Gerardo Alfaro
Guillaume Morin
Jane Orbuch
Joao Ascensao
johanna reis
John King
Josh Kuroda
Joshua Murallon Robertson
Justin Bull
Kallie Moore
Karen Reynolds
Katherine Schick
Kathleen R Jaroma
Kendall Rasmussen
Kristy Freeman
Kyle Fisher
Laura Sanborn
Laurel Przybylski
Leonhardt Wille
Levi Cai
Louis O'Neill
Mary Truland
Natalie Banach
Nathan Wright
Nicolette Ray
Noreen Herrington
Osbaldo Olvera
Pamela Parker
Richard Shalumov
Rick Wong
Robert Amling
Robert Warner
Roberta K Wright
Sarah Khalida Mohamad
Sayantan Dasgupta
Shelley Pearson Cranshaw
Silvan Wendland
Sonia Tanlimco
SueEllen McCann
Tea Torvinen
Titania Juang
Trae Wright
Two Box Fish

---+ About KQED

KQED, an NPR and PBS affiliate in San Francisco, CA, serves Northern California and beyond with a public-supported alternative to commercial TV, Radio and web media.

Funding for Deep Look is provided in part by PBS Digital Studios. Deep Look is a project of KQED Science, which is also supported by the National Science Foundation, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, the Vadasz Family Foundation, the Fuhs Family Foundation, Campaign 21 and the members of KQED.

Post your comment


Be the first to comment