The Crickets of the Paris Metro

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What you hear in some underground stations is neither a recording broadcast by loud-speakers, nor the cracking of a neon, nor the consequence of your overactive imagination ; it is the genuine singing of the crickets.

Where do they come from ?

This insect comes from Afghanistan ; it settled in the South of France at the beginning of the Middle-Ages arriving via vessels transporting spices. The domestic cricket soon reached Paris and found a refuge at the bakers' ; their ovens provided them with the heat, food and comfort necessary for their development. The building of the " Metropolitain " was achieved when electric technology replaced wood ovens. The crickets found a new eldorado there.

Where can they be heard ?

The temperature, maintained by the circulation of the trains, ranges from 27ºC to 34ºC (81ºF to 93ºF) during rush hours.

Between the platforms, our protégés hang out in the numerous hidden places in the ballast (volcanic stones that cover the ground), where they can find a lot of food : crumbs, tobacco, fatty papers, bits of wood etc ... In fact, any organic rubbish is an excellent meal for crickets. In addition, humidity, essential to the development of their eggs, is maintained by the infiltration of water.

So, there are actually crickets on the Paris Metro, and their presence is easily explained.

But you have to know their favourite stations. All the conditions mentioned before cannot be found everywhere. For example, the ballast of line 1 : Château de Vincennes - La Défense has recently been replaced by concrete paving stones and does not suit our singing rail squatters anymore. Without having to prick up your ears too much, you will have the possibility to listen to their symphony of stridulations on the following lines : 9 Mairie de Montreuil - Pont de Sèvres 3 Gallieni - Pont de Levallois

in the following stations :

        Mairie de Montreuil             Bonne Nouvelle
        Croix de Chavaux                Rue Montmartre
        Robespierre                     Chaussée d'Antin
        Porte de Montreuil              Havre Caumartin
        Maraîchers                      St Augustin
        Buzenval                        Opéra
        Boulets Montreuil               4 Septembre
        Charonne                        Sentier
        Oberkampf                       St Lazare

The singing of the crickets

The chirping is generated by rubbing the two wings (or wing-covers). Only the males have the power to stridulate. Contrary to what most people believe, there is no favourable period to hear them singing. The crickets are under your feet all day and all year long ; and they want you to be aware of their existence !

There are three different songs which correspond to different " moods ".

The first is a call addressed to females; Their eardrums, situated on their legs, allow them to hear the sound from up to ten meters ( thirty three feet).

The second one is hardly noticeable. It is actually a tender murmur sent to the female ready to copulate.

The third song proclaims the aggressiveness and claim to territory of an insect which challenges the arrival of a competitor.

The Protection League for the Crickets of Paris Metro (LPGMP)

The " Ligue de Protection des Grillons du Métro Parisien " (LPGMP) is a legal and non lucrative association founded in 1992, due to the lack of information concerning this phenomenon of which most Parisians were ignorant.

The LPGMP wishes to promote the existence of the crickets in the Paris Metro and to protect their living conditions.

Actually, the association demands the limitation of RATP strikes, which cause dangerous falls in temperatures in the tunnels, due to stoppage of trains. The LPGMP also claims the attenuation of Evin's law, which forbids smoking in the Metro and deprives the crickets of an important food source : cigarette buts.

But the LPGMP also works on different projects such as transformation of disused stations to auditoriums dedicated to its protégés, or the creation of a signalling system that would inform the people of the presence of the crickets in the relevant stations.

The LPGMP has about 100 members. One of them is Marcel Porcher, ex MP of the " Département du Val d'Oise ", who founded the MP association for the support of the Metro Crickets. The LPGMP welcomes all suggestions that will contribute to the protection of any other animals.

This page is published by the Ligue de Protection des Grillons du Métro Parisien . For further information please contact :

Ligue de Protection des Grillons du Métro Parisien.
 
9bis, chemin des Rochers
77140 Moncourt Fromonville
FRANCE
+33 (0) 1 60 55 17 07
E-Mail : lpgmp@wanadoo.fr