Have you ever listened to the mesmerizing serenade of field crickets (Gryllus spp.) on a crisp autumn evening and wondered why they’re doing that? I mean, the mercury’s definitely headed south, the nights are going to become pretty chill, and those bugs’ll be belly-up before too long. Yet they’re standing on the stoop warbling impromptu a cappellas. What’s up with that?
I’ll give it to you straight: crickets or Sinatra, it all comes down to Guys and Dolls.
First, there’s An Affair to Remember.
Ok, several affairs. What can I say? The Lady is a Tramp.
A few weeks later the she cricket leaves her eggs to be fostered by soil or plant stems, then scurries away to die of exposure shortly thereafter. The guy(s) have long since split but suffer a similar fate.
The following spring their orphaned offspring hatch, molt, and become wingless nymphs — tiny versions of Mom and Pop(s). Summer is spent looking for rations and staying out of trouble, mostly. Then Autumn Leaves mean it’s time to go underground until things heat up again.
The Earth will make it’s way half-way around the Sun and then the little ones will emerge again with a song in their hearts.
Well… not exactly.
Crickets don’t really sing. The females are silent, and when males want to croon they don’t clear their throats… they rub their wings together, kind of like snapping fingers. Very hip. So maybe it would be more accurate to say their wear their hearts on their sleeves. Except they don’t have sleeves. Or arms. Or hearts.
Let’s just say they do it their way. I’m sure The Chairman would understand.
Speaking of Old Blue Eyes, Frank had plenty of hits and, early in his career, an impressive two-octave range. Male crickets aren’t as vocally adept (because, as I just mentioned, they aren’t using their voices) and their repertoire is limited to one Nice ‘n’ Easy hit. Usually it’s a single note, repeated as many times as necessary. Crickets don’t swing but they do have stamina, plus they mix up the tempo to suite the room (temperature).
And Jeepers Creepers, there’s something about a love song that sets the female heart a-flutter (even if she doesn’t have an actual heart), especially In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning.
Makes no difference whether she’s a Sophisticated Lady or The Girl Next Door. She’ll leave home and go Wandering in search of a song she just can’t resist, and in no time at all she’ll be Taking a Chance on Love.
Apparently, a dreamy tune counts for a lot more than looks because a gal cricket will completely ignore the fact that her suitor’s ears are on his front legs. She’s Funny That Way.
Come to think of it, Frankie’s ears were rather conspicuous, too, but the bobbysoxers still swooned.
© 2016 Next-Door Nature. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author. Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: public domain, Ken Schneider, Back from the Brink, Jimmy Smith, and Back from the Brink.