- Not Exactly Rocket Science
The Silence of the Crickets, The Silence of the Crickets
In 2003, Marlene Zuk travelled to the Hawaiian island of Kauai and heard something very strange—nothing. A disquieting quiet. An absence of chirping. A silence of the crickets.
The crickets hadn’t disappeared. Zuk would go for nighttime walks and see multitudes of the insects in the light of her headlamp. If anything, there were more of them than before. They just weren’t calling out. When she dissected them, Zuk found out why.
Male crickets call with two structures on the backs of their wings—a vein with several evenly spaced teeth (the file) and a raised ridge (the scraper). When the cricket rubs these together, the effect is like running your nail along the teeth of a comb—you get a thrrrrrrrrrrrp sound.