The Pleasure of Strange Stridulations

When I consider the nature of cricket chirping, or stridulation, it’s strange that I find it so reassuring–this redundant high pitched sound made by an insect; usually countless insects chorusing together, rasping a comb-like structure on their wings. “Ah–that’s soothing” says my nervous system. But then again it’s not so strange.

When I grew up, summer evenings were a delight, in a very Ray Bradbury sort of way; we ran gleefully wild, always accompanied by the backdrop of crickets. Eventually we were sent to bed, where agreeably exhausted we fell asleep listening to the insectile stridulations. So my brain was imprinted with a pleasurable association, activated when I hear the sound again.

Crickets are often cartoonishly depicted as playing violins, and it’s not so different, it’s the same principle: evoking a high pitched sound through scraping on an instrument. Only the males stridulate, calling to females and warning off other males, and somehow chorusing more or less together–apparently, too, the group chirping changes frequency as temperature changes.

Wikipedia tells us, “In the central part of the tegmen is the “harp”. This is an area of thick, sclerotinized membrane which resonates and amplifies the volume of sound”. So they also come with amplifiers…


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