As a kid, my parents taught me that I could estimate the current temperature by listening to crickets. I had my doubts, but this little piece of folklore actually has science behind it.

There are a number of equations for doing this, but using Dolbear’s Law, you can determine the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit outside by counting the number of cricket chirps you hear in one minute.

A.E. Dolbear, a professor at Tufts College back in 1897, was the first to see a relationship between ambient temperature and the rate that a cricket chirps and create an equation that would calculate the temperature.

Crickets chirp faster as temperatures rise, and slower when temperatures fall.

Dolbear’s Law:     Temperature = 50+[(N-40)/4] where N = the number of chirps per minute

Listen to a field cricket sound.

There are chirping rate differences in crickets and katydids by species, so if you want to be really accurate you will have to see what Dolbear and other scientists have determined for specific species.

The singing of crickets in the folklore of Brazil and elsewhere is sometimes taken to be a sign of impending rain, or of a financial windfall. In Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s chronicles of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the sudden chirping of a cricket heralded the sighting of land for his crew, just as their water supply had run out.

In Barbados, a loud cricket means money is coming in; hence, a cricket must not be killed or evicted if it chirps inside a house. However, another type of cricket that is less noisy forebodes illness or death.

Crickets are popular pets and are considered good luck in some countries. In China and some European countries, crickets are kept in cages and are considered good luck.

The Walt Disney Company created Pinocchio‘s “conscience”, Jiminy Cricket, and in Mulan, Cri-kee is carried in a cage for luck.

Chester Cricket is the main character in the 1960s children’s book The Cricket in Times Square.

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