The Symphony of Summer Nights: Why Crickets Sing

As the sun says goodbye to the day and the moon says hello to the night, a familiar symphony fills the air -- the chorus of crickets. Their rhythmic chirps seem to paint the night with an invisible brush, creating an ambient backdrop for summer. But what's the point of these little musicians singing to us in the moonlight all night?

The Symphony of Summer Nights: Why Crickets Sing
 Despite its small size, crickets can live relatively long lives, with some species surviving for several months to a year

Why do crickets chirp on meadows during summer? 

For crickets, singing is more than an expression of being alive; it is a language that firmly relates to their own essence and through which they proclaim: here I am. During the warm summer months, when the nights are longer and temperatures are ideal, crickets engage like troubadours in a captivating courtship. The males, equipped with specialized structures called "stridulators" on their wings, produce signature chirping sounds by rubbing them against each other. Each cricket has its own song, which tells all vital information about itself.

Summer Sounds: Crickets Explained
 Because of its strong hind legs, crickets are very good jumpers. They're able to leap about 20 times their body length on average

The temperature plays a role in the rate at which crickets chirp. Generally speaking, the hotter it is, the quicker it will crackle. To estimate the temperature in Fahrenheit using cricket chirps, count the number of chirps a cricket makes in one minute. Subtract 40 from that number, then divide the result by 3, and finally, add 50.

Crickets in Summer: The Science Behind Their Chirping
The hotter the temperature, the quicker Cricket chirps

Crickets have an important role in nature. They're scavenging for decomposing organic matter, helping to break it down and bring nutrients back into the ground. In addition, crickets alone are food for numerous animals such as birds, or snakes. The presence of crickets in certain areas is a valuable indicator of the environmental health of that area. 

The Crickets as Pets in Ancient Japan (Edo Period)

The soothing chirping of crickets is a natural white noise, softly calming the mind. Research has shown that the sound of crickets can help lower stress levels and improve sleep quality. 

During Japan's Edo period (1603–1868), raising crickets as pets was a common pastime known as "Suzumushitsukai," particularly among the Japanese aristocracy, including the samurai. It was believed that the rhythmic chirping of crickets would bring harmony into the household. Specialized markets such as "Suzumushi Ichiba" or "cricket markets" flourished in cities like Edo, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. In these places, different crickets were traded, and good cricket singers were highly valued and often traded for silver. 

Crickets as Pets in Edo Period Japan
 In Edo Japan, called Suzumushitsukai, keeping crickets was a popular hobby

 In the houses or gardens, crickets were kept in intricately designed bamboo cages called "mushiko" or "insect cages." The crickets were carefully cared for by their owners, who provided them with rice bran, fruit, and occasional treats such as sweet potatoes.

 Sellers often encouraged their crickets to chirp on the market by gently tapping cages or exposing them to natural sounds, such as a stream of water or rustling leaves. In Japan, crickets have been widely represented in literature, poetry and the classical arts.

 The tradition of keeping crickets  in Japan as pets is still alive today, despite the decline in popularity of suzumushi compared to its heyday in the Edo period, thanks to enthusiasts, who preserve the legacy of a centuries old cultural practice of keeping crickets as pets.


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