Those dastardly crickets


The sound of a supposed sonic attack in Havana matches that of a Caribbean cricket, a new study reports.
U.S. personnel in Cuba recorded what they believed to be an acoustic attack and gave it to the Associated Press in October 2017.
Biologists Alexander L. Stubbs and Fernando Montealegre compared the AP recording to the sounds of 130 cricket species and found it matched the calling song of the Anurogryllus celerinictus, also known as the Indies short-tailed cricket.
The recordings are alike in “pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, pulse rate stability, and oscillations per pulse,” according to the study, entitled, “Recording of ‘sonic attacks’ on U.S. diplomats in Cuba spectrally matches the echoing call of a Caribbean cricket.”
The study stated:

The AP recording also exhibits frequency decay in individual pulses, a distinct acoustic signature of cricket sound production.

The study recalled an encounter that the late naturalist Harry A. Allard had with the Anurogryllus cricket. In a 1957 report, Allard wrote:

In the Dominican Republic when the warm and humid evening arrives, scattered chirping and tinkling notes issue from the shrubs and trees here and there.
Some of these are clear, incisive little points of high-pitched sound; others are powerful, penetrating, buzzing, almost ringing noises, continuous and even very disconcerting to many people because of the incessant din.

Anurogryllus celerinictus. Credit: Brandon Woo

In the Capital city, Ciudad Trujillo, the large brown cricket Anurogryllus muticus (DeGeer) is very common and noisy throughout the winter. As soon as the night came on and lights appeared, these ubiquitous crickets began their activities out-of-doors in the yard and even within the wide-open houses, for there are no screened windows or doors in the typical Spanish houses.
The song of the males of this cricket, here, is a continuous ringing z-z-z-z-z-z- of tremendous volume and penetration which practically fills a room with veritable din. The song is quite like that of our common cone-head, Neoconocephalus robustus crepitans (Scudder) of the eastern United States. After being accustomed to hear the trilling notes, definitely musical in tonality, of our American individuals of this species, I was somewhat nonplussed to hear this tropical cricket singing continuously, with all the characteristics of a cone-headed katydid, and with no tonality in its stridulation.

Leave a Comment