Plants and Animals

Acris blanchardi Blanchard's cricket frog

species photo
Tom R. Johnson

Key Characteristics

The Blanchard's Cricket Frog is a small, warty-skinned frog (0.6-1.5 inches adult length) that is usually tan, brown, gray or olive green, sometimes with scattered green, reddish, or black blotches and a broad light stripe down the back. A dark triangular mark is usually visible between the eyes on top of the head. It has a distinctive breeding call consisting of a rapid series of metallic clicks, similar to the sound made when two pebbles or marbles are tapped together. edit

Status and Rank

US Status:
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S2S3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan42002
Barry202014
Berrien132012
Branch31950
Calhoun72007
Cass32009
Clinton21948
Eaton11942
Hillsdale62017
Ingham21968
Ionia21947
Jackson51957
Kalamazoo242017
Kent72013
Lapeer22002
Leelanau31985
Lenawee62017
Livingston92009
Monroe22013
Muskegon11996
Oakland11968
Oceana11996
Ottawa42017
St. Clair12011
St. Joseph11909
Van Buren141997
Washtenaw102012

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs typically inhabit the open edges of permanent ponds, lakes, floodings, bogs, seeps and slow-moving streams and rivers. They also can utilize temporary water bodies if near permanent water. They prefer open or partially vegetated mud flats, muddy or sandy shorelines, and mats of emergent aquatic vegetation in shallow water. Blanchard's Cricket Frogs also can be found in farm ponds, drainage ditches and gravel ponds, although polluted water is poorly tolerated. This frog is thought to be the most aquatic of North American treefrogs and usually does not leave the vicinity of water after the breeding season except during rainy weather.

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Maintenance of suitable wetland habitats and connectivity among habitat patches is critical for conservation of extant Blanchard's Cricket Frog populations or metapopulations. Wetland creation or restoration would provide potential habitat for this species. Maintaining open or sparsely vegetated areas along the shorelines of suitable water bodies also would benefit this species. Since cricket frogs are highly restricted to aquatic habitats, they may be especially susceptible to aquatic pollutants. Hence, the use of chemicals should be avoided or limited in areas in which the runoff would impact cricket frog sites. Maintaining buffers of natural vegetation between water bodies and agricultural fields or developed areas also would help reduce the input of chemical runoff into cricket frog habitat. Fish introductions into extant cricket frog sites also may pose a threat to cricket frogs and should be re-examined and avoided or discontinued when possible.

Active Period

Active from fourth week of March to fourth week of October

Breeding from second week of May to third week of July

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for this species is to listen in the evening and at night (i.e., after sunset and until about 1-2 am) for the distinctive clicking calls of the males during the breeding season. Frog call surveys should be conducted on multiple days or nights during the breeding season and should be conducted during appropriate weather conditions. Humidity and cloud cover are not critical for breeding frog call surveys, but a sudden drop in temperature can cause frogs to stop calling. Visual surveys for adults and/or tadpoles also can be conducted during the active period, especially during or after the breeding season. Surveys for adults or tadpoles in the water can be conducted using dip nets. However, it is generally difficult to visually observe these frogs because of their small size and tendency to stay in or near the water.

Breeding call surveys

Survey Period: From second week of May to third week of July

Time of Day: Night
Humidity: Humid
Air Temperature: Above 60 degrees
Precipitation: Rainy
Wind: Light Breeze
Survey Method Comment: High humidity or light rain optimal but can hear during other conditions as well except avoid surveying on cold, windy nights or during heavy rain.

Time of Day: Evening
Humidity: Humid
Air Temperature: Above 60 degrees
Precipitation: Rainy
Wind: Light Breeze
Survey Method Comment: High humidity or light rain optimal but can hear during other conditions as well except avoid surveying on cold, windy nights or during heavy rain.

References

Survey References

  • Heyer, W.R., M.A. Donnelly, R.W. McDiarmid, L.C. Hayek, and M.S. Foster, eds. 1994. Measuring and Monitoring Biological Diversity: Standard Methods for Amphibians. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. 364pp.
  • Karns, D.R. 1986. Field Herpetology: Methods for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles in Minnesota. Occ. Pap. No. 18. J.F. Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Technical References

  • Burkett, R.D. 1984. An ecological study of the cricket frog, Acris crepitans. Pp. 89-103. In: Seigel, R.A., L.E. Hunt, J.L. Knight, L. Malaret, and N.L. Zuschlag (eds.). 1984. Vertebrate Ecology and Systematics. Museum of Natural History, The University of Kansas, Lawrence.
  • Harding, J.H. 1997.Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 378pp.
  • Lee, Y., D.A. Hyde and J. Legge. 2000. Special Animal Abstract for Acris crepitans blanchardi (Blanchard's cricket frog). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 4pp.
  • Minton, S.A. 1972. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 3: 346pp.
  • Smith, P.W. 1961. The amphibians and reptiles of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey, Carbondale. Bulletin No. 28. 298 pp.