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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And now in our series, Wild Sounds, we hear from the common cricket. Laurel Symes is a researcher from Dartmouth College, who records and even travels with crickets.

(Soundbite of crickets chirping)

Ms. LAUREL SYMES (Researcher, Dartmouth College): You know, I try and keep them in cardboard boxes. Like, I close up the boxes when I'm driving in the car. As you keep driving, you'll hear one start and then two start and pretty soon your whole car is full of chirping crickets. And then you hit a bump and they stop.

And so it's just, you know, Nathaniel Hawthorne said that two crickets are the sound of silence made audible. Well, he hasn't driven a couple of hundred miles with them.

(Soundbite of crickets chirping)

Ms. SYMES: They make this sound by rubbing their two front wings together. And so they have something that looks like a man's comb on one side and then just kind of a hard surface on the other side. And so they rub this thing across and it goes drink(ph), drink, drink.

But they do it so fast that all we hear is this continuous noise.

(Soundbite of crickets chirping)

Ms. SYMES: As far as we know, they really just call to attract females or to keep a little territory.

(Soundbite of a cricket chirping)

Ms. SYMES: That's called the Snowy Tree Cricket. It's also called the thermometer tree cricket, because you can actually count the number of chirps in 13 seconds, add 40, and you can get the temperature in Fahrenheit that way.

(Soundbite of a cricket chirping)

Ms. SYMES: When you slow that down even more, you know, it goes chirp, chirp, chirp. Within each chirp there are actually eight separate pulses.

(Soundbite of crickets chirping)

Ms. SYMES: So, it goes dun(ph), dun; dun, dun, dun; dun, dun, dun.

(Soundbite of crickets chirping)

Ms. SYMES: Dun, dun; dun, dun, dun; dun, dun, dun.

And if we were to speed that up to normal speed, what that would sound like is chirp, chirp…

(Soundbite of a cricket chirping)

Ms. SYMES: So, that's Oecanthus rileyi. And that's a western species. And when you slow those chirps down, each individual chirp is actually 11 separate pulses, so that you hear two-three-three-three.

(Soundbite of a cricket chirping)

Ms. SYMES: They're just these little tiny insects, but, you know, they have temperature dependence, and the physical acoustics of their wings and all these million years of evolution in this little tiny insect. I guess I've fallen in love.

(Soundbite of crickets chirping)

MONTAGNE: Our sounds come via the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Thanks to NPR's Christopher Joyce for finding them. For more about chirping crickets, visit our Web site at NPR.org.

(Soundbite of crickets chirping)

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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