How to Know the Temperature by Counting Cricket Chirps

It is a warm summer evening and the crickets are out chirping all night long. By counting the number of cricket chirps you can actually figure out what the current temperature is. Learn how you can find out the current temperature just by counting cricket chirps using a simple formula. 

On summer evenings, the crickets are out chirping every night. It is said you can actually know the temperature just by counting cricket chirps. Is this an urban myth or can you actually know the temperature by counting cricket chirps.

Why Crickets Chirp

It is a pleasant midsummer evening and the crickets, cicadas and katydids are out chirping and singing away. When you hear crickets chirping, it is usually the male crickets that you are hearing. Crickets chirp by rubbing their wings together to make that sound.

There are several reasons a cricket will chirp or sing like this. The most common reason is a mating call, courting a female cricket. Other times a cricket will sing out a warning signal of danger or aggressive behavior between two male crickets.

Count Cricket Chirps and Know the Temperature

You can actually count the cricket chirps and know the current temperature. There are several formulas for this, the Farmers Almanac has a formula and even the US government has a formula.

The tricky part can be distinguishing between the different crickets because you need to count the chirps from just one cricket. Another problem can be hearing the cricket chirps in the early evening if one of those very loud cicadas start in with their song.

The Old Farmers Almanac says that you can find out the current temperature by using the following formula. Count the number of cricket chirps you hear in 14 seconds and then add 40 to that number. This number will equal the temperature in Fahrenheit.

For example, in 14 seconds you count 35 chirps from one cricket, you add 40 to the 35 cricket chirps and the approximate temperature is 75 degrees in Fahrenheit. Of course this only works in the United States. For everyone else, there is a formula to get the current temperature in Celsius.

To get the temperature in Celsius, count the number of cricket chirps for 25 seconds, divide this number by 3 and then add 4. For example, you count 50 cricket chirps in 25 seconds, you then use the formula of 50 cricket chirps divided by 3 + 4 = temperature in Celsius. This example would mean the temperature is 20.6 degrees Celsius.

A Different Formula

Dr. Peggy LaMone, a Scientist for the GLOBE Program decided to find out if she could fine tune this formula for a more accurate temperature reading. Her experiments were not just a one night experiment, but took weeks of collecting data from her Boulder, Colorado home to get it accurate.

Dr. LeMone found that this formula gave a more accurate temperature from cricket chirps. Count the cricket chirps in 13 seconds and add 40 to that number for the temperature in Fahrenheit.

Dr. LeMone also came up with a formula for temperature in Celsius. Count the cricket chirps in 15 seconds and add 9 to the number of chirps and divide by 2 to get the air temperature in Celsius.

My Experiment

I counted the cricket chirps the past several evenings using both of these formulas and compared the actual temperature using a digital outdoor thermometer. Counting the cricket chirps gave a temperature that was at times exactly the same as my thermometer and other times about 2 degrees Fahrenheit lower than what my digital thermometer was showing. Not bad for a cricket thermometer.

When is it Too Cold for Crickets?

Most data collected found that crickets do not like to chirp below 50 F, but I have heard crickets chirping when the temperature was in the 40’s.

Copyright © 2011 Sam Montana

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