Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

NYC Cricket Crawl

The cricket sang,
And set the sun,
And workmen finished, one by one,
Their seam the day upon.

The low grass loaded with the dew,
The twilight stood as strangers do
With hat in hand, polite and new,
To stay as if, or go.

A vastness, as a neighbor, came,–
A wisdom without face or name,
A peace, as hemispheres at home,–
And so the night became.

~ Emily Dickinson

This is the cutest event I’ve heard of for NYC: a night spent counting crickets and katydids.

What: NYC Cricket Crawl (counting 7 species of crickets and katydids in NYC)
Where: New York City area
When: Friday, 11 September 2009 at 7:45pm until midnight (rain date: 12 September 2009 7:45pm until midnight)
Why: Crickets and katydids are a vital part of our urban and suburban ecosystems, yet neither scientists nor lay people have paid much attention to them … until now. The main goals of the project are: (1) to determine the location and distribution of common crickets and katydids in the New York City area; (2) to connect the people of NYC with their cricket and katydid neighbors; and (3) to have fun.
Cost: Free!
Supplies Needed: pencil and paper, good ears, recall of the songs of the 7 insect species we’re counting, and a cell phone for reporting your results.

The Cricket and Katydid Crawl of New York City and surrounding areas is a citizen science project in which participants will venture out between dusk and midnight to locations of their choosing throughout the NYC metro area to listen for the calls of crickets and katydids and document their observations. [A simple little paper was the impetus for this entire project; download the PDF] The only technology needed is pencil and paper. However, we will ask most participants to phone or email in their results from their cell phones so that we can conduct real-time analyses (these will be posted to a blog site!). And there are many many potential embellishments to the project, depending on who comes forward to volunteer. More information, including the songs of the insect species you will meet in the field, and others that you might meet in the field.

If you’d like to survey crickets and katydids, please send an email to Specify whether you are interested in doing counts or doing something in addition. You can also become a fan of the Cricket Crawl on Facebook.


  1. #1 John
    August 21, 2009

    Hm. That sounds interesting.

  2. #2 DD
    August 21, 2009

    Just saw an article on how Aussie frogs change their tune in urban traffic, to a higher pitch than the road tires, and birds too, so maybe those NYC crickets will soon sing another song?

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    August 21, 2009

    since they use song to attract mates, they cannot change their song too much, or females will not recognize them as potential mates. however, that said, their songs do change with temperature: the cooler the male, the slower and deeper the song.

  4. #4 Ian Paulsen
    August 21, 2009

    Grrlscientist wrote: the cooler the male, the slower and deeper the song.Sounds like male Humans too!

  5. #5 Bob O'H
    August 22, 2009

    Damn, wrong sort of cricket. I thought it was going to involve bats, balls, 22 men dressed in white, and at least 11 bars.

  6. #6 dp
    August 22, 2009

    Bob, #5, that was my exact thought! I only clicked on the link because I thought it might lead to more than a few beers with compatriots who appreciated real sport.

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