The Blanchard’s cricket frog, named after noted herpetologist Frank N. Blanchard, is an endangered species in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. They are commonly found in wetlands and around ponds, lakes and other similar stagnant bodies of water. Their ideal habitat is in sloping, muddy banks but can also be found in sandy areas or near steep slopes.
They are very small treefrogs, only being to about 1.3 to 3.8 centimeters in length. Their skin color varies and may change based on the environmental condition but they can be brown, green, gray or reddish tan. Their skin surface is bumpy with dark triangle between their eyes.
The cricket frog was once considered one of the most abundant frogs in southern Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), over the past several decades it has rapidly declined for unknown reasons. It is still abundant in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette counties with a few confirmed sites in Columbia, Crawford, Sauk and Vernon counties in 2012.
Their average life span is about one year, which is considered to be short for this species. They hibernate during the cold months, usually emerging in late March or early April. They are typically active from spring through late-fall and breed from late-May through mid-August. Their sound can be described as two ball bearings clicking together.
They dine on a wide variety of annelids, mollusks, arthropods, crustaceans, and insects. The cricket frog larvae primarily consume phytoplankton.
Across the United States, the cricket frog ranges from Wisconsin down into Texas and over to southeastern South Dakota and east of the Ohio River. Populations throughout central and southern portions appear to be stable. They eat throughout the day and night moving as little as only 50 feet per day to find food.
The DNR has several resources on their website along with measures that need to be taken to avoid harming the cricket frog’s environment while approaching with a project such as the one taking place in Darlington.
The best times to be able to hear if a cricket frog is present in your area is to go near rivers, lakes, ponds, etc. during the months of May and June and listen. To hear exactly what they sound like, go to the Blanchard’s Cricket Frog page on the Wisconsin DNR website and click on photos/video for a sample sound.