Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.
Every so often Joe heard it. A loud chirp, then a soft chirp. Fast, and then slow. He asked his mom what made the chirping noise.
“That is a cricket sound,” she answered. “Sounds like it is coming from the basement.”
“They can talk?” he asked, wide-eyed.
“No, they make the sound by rubbing their hind legs together…at least I think they do. Maybe you could do some research and tell me.”
He was surprised to learn that they were related to grasshoppers and katydids. He’d had a run in with both earlier in the year.
After reading about how they make the sound he turned to his mom and said, “Well, they don’t use their legs to make the noise. It says here that they use this big vein that goes along each wing. It looks like it has teeth on it. Cool!”
“And how do they make the noise?” asked his mom.
“They run the top of one wing along the bottom of the other. Kind of like a zipper. They hold their wings open to make a loud, echoey chirp.”
“Cool,” said his mom.
“Yep. Don’t worry Mom, the leg thing is a popular myth. I’m sure lots of people thought that.”
Joe’s mom just smiled.
As Joe read on he learned that there were four types of cricket songs: the calling song, the courting song, the aggressive song and the mating song.
The calling song was for the girl crickets, but it was loud to let the other boys know to stay away.
The courting song was really more like the dating song and it’s very quiet.
The aggressive song comes out when another boy cricket is near and the mating song was for after a good cricket date.
Other crickets could hear the chirps because they had a little membrane below their tiny cricket knee.
He was a little grossed out to read that they eat their own dead if there is no food around. Other than that they eat dying plants, fungi and seedling plants. They don’t usually bite people, but when they do it hurts because they have super powerful jaws.
“I’m going to go investigate. These things lay eggs about now and it says they can hatch up to 200 per female. We don’t want these in the house…they eat seedling plants.”
“Yes, please do! We’ll be starting our plants in the basement for next year’s garden and we don’t want them eating our seedlings.”
Joe quietly tip toed around the basement living room with his bug gun at the ready, stopping every so often to wait for the chirping to start up again. Finally he found the little guy. It was in the bed of one of his dump trucks.
Joe chuckled, “Well that was easy.”
He looked at it for a few moments and remembered something he had read. His eyes lit up.