Cricket radio: tuning in the night-singing insects.

Cricket radio: tuning in the night-singing insects. John Himmelman.

Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2011. Octavo, dustwrapper, colour photographs, line drawings.

The nocturnal songs of insects are lures and warnings, full of risks and rewards for these tiny competitive performers. What moves crickets and katydids to sing, how they produce their distinctive sounds, how they hear the songs of others, and how they vary cadence, volume, and pitch to attract potential mates, warn off competitors, and evade predators is part of the engaging story this book tells. Himmelman's narrative weaves together his personal experiences as an amateur naturalist in search of crickets and katydids with the stories of scientists who study these insects professionally. He also offers instructions for bringing a few of the little singers into our homes and gardens. We can, Himmelman suggests, be reawakened to these night songs that have meant so much to the human psyche. The online insect calls that accompany this colourfully illustrated narrative provide a bridge of sound to our past and to our vital connection with other species.

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