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Cricket Radio

Cricket Radio

Tuning In the Night-Singing Insects

John Himmelman

ISBN 9780674046900

Publication date: 03/15/2011

At a time when night-singing insects have slipped beyond our notice—indeed, are more likely to be heard as NatureSounds than in a backyard—John Himmelman seeks to reconnect us to creatures whose songs form a part of our own natural history.

On warm summer evenings, night-singing insects produce a whirring, chirping soundscape—a calming aural tapestry celebrated by poets and naturalists for millennia. But “cricket radio” is not broadcast for the easy-listening pleasure of humans. 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 Cricket Radio 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 colorfully illustrated narrative provide a bridge of sound to our past and to our vital connection with other species.


  • Cricket Radio is beautifully written, and it deeply impressed even a hardened, grizzled cricketeer like me. I hope and believe that this book will find its way to not only entomologists and parents of budding entomologists everywhere, but also to the bookshelves of the birders of the world—who would have their eyes and ears opened to another major group of nature's singers.

    —Ronald R. Hoy, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University


  • John Himmelman is author and illustrator of nearly seventy books, including Guide to Night-Singing Insects of the Northeast and Discovering Amphibians: Frogs and Salamanders of the Northeast. Visit his website at

Book Details

  • 272 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press