You can tell the temperature by counting the chirps crickets make.
All cold-blooded animals perform their functions faster at higher temperatures. Just compare how fast the ants run around in cool and hot weather. Crickets are no exception. They chirp at a rate that is geared directly to the temperature. To understand their message, all you need is the translation formula.
This is not so much a biological phenomenon as it is a chemical one. All living things are governed by chemical reactions, and chemical reactions generally go faster at higher temperatures.
That’s because chemicals can’t react with one another unless they come into contact, molecules actually bumping into molecules. The higher the temperature, the faster the molecules are moving and the more often they will collide and react. Chemists like to use the rule of thumb that a chemical reaction doubles in speed for every ten-degree (Celsius) rise in temperature.
Fortunately, we warm-blooded critters maintain a constant temperature and therefore a pretty constant rate of living. Crickets, however, chirp faster when they’re warmer. The best one to listen to is the snowy tree cricket of North America. But if you can’t tell one cricket from another, don’t worry about it. The common field cricket chirps at about the same rate.
Here’s how to tell the temperature by listening to a cricket: Count the number of chirps in fifteen seconds and add forty. That will give you the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.
When the United States finally switches to the metric system, crickets will be required by law to chirp in Celsius. You will then be able to determine the temperature in degrees Celsius by counting the number of chirps in eight seconds and adding five.
Be aware that the cricket is broadcasting the temperature where it happens to be. Unless you’re up a tree or in the grass, your temperature is not quite cricket.