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No. 80: Mar-Apr 1992

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Cricket Coordination

In the August 31, 1991, issue of Science News, there appeared an item on the famous synchronously flashing fireflies of Southeast Asia. W. Clements, writing in response to the firefly story, asserts that Indian crickets chirping in unison are much more impressive. He wrote:

"I once rode on the back of a truck at night along mountain roads in India. There the crickets sound out quite loudly. The sound swells and diminishes with a persistent beat. As we drove along mile after mile, there was not the tiniest perceptible change in the rhythm. In other words, the insects we listened to at any point were modulating their sound at exactly the same frequency, if not phase, maintained by their contemporaries many miles back. Considering the vast areas that must be represented wherever it occurs, the phenomenon must involve unimaginable millions of insects all acting in concert. This is vastly more impressive than the spectacle of fireflies performing together in a single tree."

Picture, if you will, millions, perhaps billions, of crickets all moving their limbs together in unison over many square miles!

(Clements, Warner; "Flashy Displays," Science News, 140:323, 1991.)

From Science Frontiers #80, MAR-APR 1992. � 1992-2000 William R. Corliss