Acris crepitans blanchardi
Blanchard's Cricket Frogs are tiny. Adults may be about 1 3/8 inches
(3.5 cm) long. Background colors are variable and include gray, brown,
black, olive or tan. Body markings are red, orange, green and/or olive.
Even individual frogs found in the same place may not be the same color!
Hopping through the grass they resemble crickets. If startled, they are
the champion jumpers of their size class, able to cover great distances
at a single bound. Although Cricket Frogs are very cold tolerant, they
are late breeders. In the Chicago Region they breed in May and June along
the margins of permanent streams, ponds, and lakes. Male frogs float on
the water surface or perch on algae while making a noise like two marbles
being clicked together. Their "gick-gick-gick" call starts slowly, then
the tempo increases. About 30 "gicks" comprise one call. Up to 200 eggs
are deposited in filmy packets near the surface of the water. The tadpoles
are wary but can be identified by their black-tipped tails.
In 1961, Blanchard's Cricket Frog was described as "the most common amphibian in Illinois." Today it is nearly gone in its former Chicago Region range, although it is still common further south. The reason or reasons for its decline are not known. Several causes have been suggested including: habitat loss or fragmentation, ultraviolet-B effects on floating egg masses and the use of road salt. Surprisingly, cricket frogs are still found in the former Joliet Arsenal in a pond they share with small fish, although they have disappeared in more pristine and less competitive areas.
Ellin Beltz email@example.com October 26, 2008