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Effect of Temperature on Chirping Crickets

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Dog Days of Summer Science

Purpose or Problem

The purpose is to see if temperature affects the chirping activity of crickets.

Overview

On warm nights in the spring or summer, in quiet wooded areas, the sound of chirping crickets fills the air. Do the number of chirps increase as the temperature increases? Do you recall ever hearing crickets on cold evenings? Is there a cool temperature below which crickets will not chirp? If so, you can get an idea of the outdoor temperature by listening to the sound (or the absence of sound) of chirping crickets.

Hypothesis

Hypothesize that temperature has an effect on the chirping sound made by crickets.

Materials' List

  • Several common house crickets
  • Pet "critter cage," empty aquarium tank, or similar container
  • Pet heat rock
  • Thermometer
  • Ice cubes
  • Sealable plastic food bags
  • Tape recorder
  • Paper and pencil

Procedure

Obtain several common household crickets. They can usually be purchased at local pet shops, because they are used as feeders (food for larger pets). Place the crickets in a container with solid, clear sides. "Critter cages," used for snails, or empty aquarium tanks have the kind of sides you want. You may want to make your crickets more comfortable by introducing food and a water dish into the container. Check with your pet shop personnel for assistance.

Place a thermometer in the container with the crickets. Record the current temperature and make note as to whether or not the crickets are chirping.

Raise the temperature by placing a heat rock in the container. Heat rocks are available at pet shops, and they are used for many reptiles, such as lizards and iguanas. Record the temperature as it increases. Use a tape recorder to record the chirping sounds. Talk into the microphone, announcing the temperature as each degree changes.

Next, lower the temperature in the container by removing the heat rock and placing sealable plastic food bags filled with ice cubes into the container. Continue to monitor the temperature and record the sounds.

If your crickets do not chirp, could it be they are nocturnal? Are the crickets waiting for evening or for the sky to get dark?

Is there a temperature below which the crickets are silent? Do crickets chirp louder or with an increased number of chirps as the temperature increases? Use the tape recorder to compare sounds made at different temperatures.

Results

Write down the results of your experiment. Document all observations and data collected.

Conclusion

Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.

Something More

Grasshoppers are said to chirp loudest at 95°F and are unable to chirp when the temperature falls below 62°F, unable to fly below 45°F, and unable to jump below 36°F. Conduct an experiment to see if these statements can be supported by your experimental data.

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