Some people find the sound of chirping crickets to be incredibly calming. The chirping sounds might take you back to the days of your youth when you lived in an area that had many crickets.
Others find crickets to be excessively annoying because they can be rather loud. It really just depends on how you feel about the chirping sound and whether it’s something you can tune out or not.
When you’re up listening to the crickets chirping late at night, it’s easy to notice that it sounds like the crickets are all chirping at once. They don’t appear to be chirping at odd times, and it seems unusual that they would all chirp in unison such as this.
Why do crickets seem to chirp in unison? Is there a special reason why this happens or is it just coincidental?
Read on to learn about why crickets chirp in unison. You’ll gain a greater appreciation for this phenomenon once you understand how it works.
The Concept of Entrainment
Many scientific minds over the years have observed crickets chirping in unison. In the past, great minds got the sense that the synchronicity of the chirping was happening too often to be a coincidence.
This caused people to study things and eventually it was noted that crickets start chirping in unison the closer that they get to each other. Crickets that are in close proximity to each other will start chirping in unison instead of chirping at different intervals.
Why does this seem to be happening, though? Well, it actually all comes down to physics and math, believe it or not.
You might have expected there to be some special reason that specifically relates to crickets, but that just isn’t the case here. The concept of entrainment explains why objects with rhythm will fall into synchrony.
This was first noticed back in 1666 when Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens had two pendulum clocks mounted on the same board. He discovered that these pendulums synchronized despite the fact that the pendulums were swinging in opposite directions.
These pendulums were 180 degrees out of sync and they still wound up synchronizing. Of course, Huygens was intrigued by this, and it caused him to do experiments to see if he could duplicate this.
He was indeed able to make this happen time and time again in his experiments. Huygens wound up describing this phenomenon as a type of odd sympathy.
Essentially, small amounts of energy are transferred between the two pendulums when they’re out of sync. This continues to happen until everything evens out and they’re both in sync.
How Does This Relate to Crickets?
This concept doesn’t just concern objects such as pendulums. It’s also something that impacts living creatures.
Crickets are a great example because you can hear them chirping in unison all the time. The crickets might start out chirping differently, but they’ll eventually sync up as they get closer.
You can see this happening with people in certain circumstances as well. Have you ever been to a sporting event or a musical performance before?
Well, there’s a good chance that you have clapped in a crowd at some point in your life. Eventually, the claps of the crowd will sync up just the same way that the crickets chirp.
Even if you start clapping off rhythm, you’re going to sync up with the group unconsciously. You’d have to specifically try to clap off-beat or you’d just slip into the rhythm that has been established.
This is a fascinating concept that impacts far more than just crickets. Another good example from nature involves fireflies.
Have you ever looked out into the darkness of the night and seen fireflies glowing? Have you noticed that they often light up in sync with one another?
Everything in the world seems to operate in synchronicity in some ways. Even the neurons being fired in your brain are fired in synchronous patterns.
The thing to understand is that this isn’t just about crickets. Your question might be about crickets and why they chirp in unison, but the answer involves looking at synchronicity in a complex way.
It is indeed possible to explain what is going on with the crickets. You just need to turn to mathematics and science to get the answers.
Explaining Things with Math
So you know that the pendulums from 1666 synchronized due to small amounts of energy being transferred between the two. Eventually, they synced up because the energy leveled out until the pendulums had the same rhythm.
How does this explain crickets syncing up their chirps or fireflies lighting up in unison? Isn’t it a bit of a stretch to apply the entrainment idea to living creatures?
Actually, this can all be explained with math, and the math to try to explain this phenomenon was originally conceived in 1967 by an American theoretical biologist named Art Winfree. He didn’t quite have everything figured out and the math was too hard to solve at that point in time.
Eventually, a Japanese physicist named Yoshiki Kuramoto was able to simplify the math in 1974. The model that he came up with explained that things that have rhythms can spontaneously synchronize under the right conditions.
In 1979, Art Winfree came across information about the model that Kuramoto made. This led Art Winfree to understand that the math was versatile enough to explain many different things in the world.
The math is now used to explain why clusters of neurons sync up. Many things can be explained by this math that used to be a mystery.
Everything from reacting chemicals to starlings in flight can be explained using this math. Things do get more complex than this, though.
Kuramoto would go on to discover other types of synchronization and make new discoveries in what people refer to as “sync science.” As far as crickets go, understanding that there’s a mathematical equation that explains why they sync up is enough.
Now that you know more about crickets and why they chirp in unison, it’ll be easier to appreciate the complexities of the situation. Crickets chirping this way will serve as a great example of how objects with rhythm tend to sync up with each other.
The next time you hear crickets chirping at the same time on an otherwise quiet night, you’re going to remember this. The phenomenon isn’t limited to just crickets chirping at night since it impacts so many other things in the world.
Using math to explain this is an interesting concept in many ways. The math doesn’t apply to just crickets since it also explains why chemical reactions sync up and why the neurons being fired in your brain have synchronicity.
The universe is a beautiful, intriguing thing. Scientists are discovering new information all the time, and there might be new discoveries in sync science in the near future.
Science isn’t something that stays the same because it’s about finding answers to problems and trying to determine the truth through experimentation. Sometimes people learn about new facts that will change things a bit, and it’s definitely worth continuing to learn about this compelling topic.
Let your friends know why crickets chirp in unison. Knowing that there’s a mathematical reason for it might seem odd at first, but it’s something that everyone should know.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house. Growing up, I had pet dogs, cats, deer, sugar gliders, chinchillas, a bird, chickens, fish, and a goat.