Acris blanchardi

Geographic Range

Blanchard’s cricket frogs (Acris blanchardi) are native to the Nearctic region, throughout most of the central United States. Specifically, they are found as far west as central Nebraska and southward to most of Texas and even parts of northeastern Mexico. Their geographic range extends as far east as central Ohio, extending westward along the Ohio River and and then southward along the western side of the Mississippi River. They are found as far north as the southern halves of Wisconsin and Michigan and as far south as Louisiana and Texas. The interior of their range includes most of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. They are also present in the central and southeastern parts of South Dakota. (Burdick and Swanson, 2010)


Blanchard’s cricket frogs inhabit a mix of aquatic and terrestrial areas. They live near riparian areas, such as streams, shallow lakes, and ponds, that have vegetation along the shore and in shallow waters. Blanchard’s cricket frogs are mainly found near slow-moving or still waters with wet, muddy banks. They can live on open hillsides or in closed-canopy deciduous forests, so long as they have sufficient access to riparian areas. Adults shelter in mud, rocks, or vegetation close to bodies of water. As tadpoles, Blanchard’s cricket frogs inhabit shallow water in streams, ponds, and lakes.

Blanchard’s cricket frogs are most active from the end of March until mid-October, at ambient temperatures higher than 15 °C. In cooler months, they brumate under debris or in burrows along the shorelines of nearby water sources.

There is no reported distribution-wide elevation range for Blanchard’s cricket frogs. However, in West Virginia, habitat elevations range from 164 to 183 m above sea level. (Burdick and Swanson, 2010; Harding, 2000)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams

Physical Description

Adult Blanchard’s cricket frogs have warty skin, long hind limbs, fully-webbed hind toes, and unexpanded toe tips. Their snouts are triangular with a rounded edge and they have two light-colored bars spanning from the corners of their jaws to their eyes. The dorsal region of their bodies are brown, tan, olive, or grey with green, reddish, or black blotches. They also have broad, light dorsomedial stripes and cream to white ventral sides. Blanchard’s cricket frogs have a dark triangular patch of color between their eyes, which points towards their posterior ends. They also have dark bars across their upper legs and a dark stripe that spans from each shoulder to the inner side of each thigh. Adult males have a thick pad on the inner part of their thumbs, and they also have yellowish, mottled grey vocal sacs. Adult Blanchard’s cricket frogs typically weigh around 1 g and have a snout-vent length (SVL) between 1.6 and 3.8 cm. Males are smaller than females on average. A study in Kansas found that males averaged 2.25 cm in SVL, whereas females averaged 2.51 cm in SVL.

Blanchard’s cricket frog tadpoles typically reach lengths of 3 to 5 cm. Their eyes are located laterally on either side of their bodies and they have tan skin with small but prominent black blotches on the dorsal portion of their tails.

Blanchard’s cricket frogs were previously considered to be a subspecies of northern cricket frogs (Acris crepitans), but are now considered a distinct species. Northern cricket frogs have an average SVL of 1.9 to 3.8 cm. They look similar to Blanchard’s cricket frogs, but they have green on their heads and dorsal sides, as compared to the darker coloration of Blanchard’s cricket frogs. (Altig and McDiarmid, 2015; Harding, 2000; Horne, et al., 2014; McCallum, et al., 2011)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Average mass
    1 g
    0.04 oz
  • Range length
    1.6 to 3.8 cm
    0.63 to 1.50 in


Female Blanchard’s cricket frogs lay 200 to 400 eggs at a time. Fertilized eggs hatch within 6 to 21 days, depending on air and water temperature. Tadpoles are around 3 cm upon hatching and reach lengths of 5 cm before metamorphosing. Tadpoles undergo metamorphosis 5 to 10 weeks after hatching. The process of metamorphosis lasts 4.1 to 12.9 weeks, typically between late July and early September. During metamorphosis, tadpoles develop back legs first, followed by front legs. Newly-metamorphosed froglets range from 1.0 to 1.5 cm in snout-vent length (SVL), but grow rapidly. Adult Blanchard’s cricket frogs are generally 1.6 to 3.8 cm in SVL. Blanchard’s cricket frogs exhibit indeterminate growth, meaning they continue to grow throughout their lives. However, growth rates slow down significantly after they reach adulthood. (Altig and McDiarmid, 2015; Harding, 2000)


Male Blanchard's cricket frogs produce mating calls from April to August, but breeding activity peaks between mid-May and early July. Males dig underground nests, which females enter if they are receptive to mating. Copulation occurs in these underground nests, with males mounting females and squeezing their lower abdomens in a position called amplexus. During amplexus, males and females line up their cloacas and release sperm and eggs, respectively. Fertilization occurs externally, typically in shallow water among aquatic vegetation. Both sexes have multiple mates in a breeding season and eggs within a single brood may get fertilized by multiple males. Adults exhibit increased rates of food consumption from April to June to prepare for breeding season, and food consumption decreases again in July. (Johnson and Christiansen, 1976; Lehtinen and Witter, 2014)

Blanchard’s cricket frogs breed once every year, from mid-May through early July. Females lay eggs and males release sperm in warm, shallow waters and do not stay to protect them, meaning young are immediately independent upon hatching. Females lay 200 to 400 eggs either singly or in small clusters. Eggs float on the surface of the water or stick to submerged vegetation. Fertilized eggs hatch in 6 to 21 days, depending on air and water temperatures, and metamorphosis begins 5 to 10 weeks after hatching and lasts 4.1 to 12.9 weeks. There are no reports of birth mass for tadpoles, but they can range from 3 to 5 cm in length and typically inhabit warm, shallow water. They develop their hind legs first, then their front legs, and newly metamorphosed froglets range from 1.0 to 1.5 cm in length. Froglets grow rapidly and some reach sexual maturity and breed within one year. The testes of males are small and round, whereas the ovaries of females are larger, lobed, and elongated. (Altig and McDiarmid, 2015; Harding, 2000)

  • Breeding interval
    Blanchard’s cricket frogs breed once yearly
  • Breeding season
    Mid- to late May through early July
  • Range number of offspring
    200 to 400 eggs
  • Range time to hatching
    6 to 21 days
  • Average time to independence
    0 minutes
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 (low) years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 (low) years

Blanchard’s cricket frogs provide no parental investment beyond the act of mating. They typically mate in shallow, warm water, where their eggs are naturally protected by aquatic vegetation. (Altig and McDiarmid, 2015; Harding, 2000)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


Blanchard’s cricket frogs are estimated to live up to two years in the wild, based on a study of seasonal growth lines in museum specimens. There are no reports of a maximum lifespan in the wild higher than two years, and Blanchard’s cricket frogs are not kept in captivity. (McCallum, et al., 2011)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    2 (high) years


Blanchard’s cricket frogs are fairly sedentary, and typically remain close to water. However, they are reported to travel up to 60 m away from bodies of water in rainy conditions. Blanchard’s cricket frogs may move between adjacent bodies of water, but they do not migrate seasonally. Blanchard’s cricket frogs are strictly aquatic as tadpoles, but as adults they move between water and land. Their strong back legs are adapted to natatory and saltatory locomotion. Blanchard’s cricket frogs are active primarily at night, but also on rainy days. They are solitary outside of breeding season.

Blanchard’s cricket frogs communicate vocally with conspecifics and sympatric frog species. During the breeding season, males use specific mating calls to attract females to underground nests and use different, more aggressive calls to deter other males from approaching. Blanchard’s cricket frogs also produce alarm calls and release specific anti-predator chemicals when they are attacked or threatened. Blanchard’s cricket frogs leap onto shore to avoid aquatic predators, or jump into water to avoid terrestrial predators. They typically hide among aquatic vegetation along shorelines to avoid detection. One study recorded vertical leaps over 90 cm and horizontal leaps of nearly 120 cm. (Altig and McDiarmid, 2015; Harding, 2000; Horne, et al., 2014)

Home Range

Exact home range and territory sizes have not been reported for Blanchard’s cricket frogs. However, Blanchard’s cricket frogs that have been captured and released are typically found 8 to 15 m from where they were originally captured. They stay close to water, but may travel up to 60 m away in rainy conditions. Males do not actively defend the mating burrows they dig. (Dodd Jr., 2013)

Communication and Perception

Blanchard’s cricket frogs communicate with conspecifics and other frog species using vocalizations. During breeding season, males produce calls, described as a series of metallic clicks, similar to two pebbles being tapped together. The duration, pitch, and number of notes in a call varies among individuals. Males and occasionally small females will visually display their vocal sacs to attract mates.

Blanchard’s cricket frogs exhibit mating behaviors that involve acoustic, visual, and tactile cues. To attract females, males produce mating calls from underground burrows, starting around dusk and lasting until around 0200 to 0300 h. When a female enters the underground burrow of a male, the male mounts the female in an embrace called amplexus. During amplexus, males and females line up their cloacas and release their sperm and eggs, respectively. Females usually stay silent while mating, but they may producing rapid clicking sounds for several seconds.

Male Blanchard’s cricket frogs not only produce mating calls, but also make aggressive calls towards competing males. As two or more males get closer together, they produce increasingly aggressive calls to deter competition. Compared to mating calls, aggressive calls are longer, contain more notes and note groups, and have lower repetition rates.

Blanchard’s cricket frogs secrete chemicals from granular glands on their dorsal sides when attacked or threatened by predators. These chemicals can cause irritation, be unpalatable, or even prove lethal if ingested. Many of the chemicals that Blanchard’s cricket frogs produce in their granular glands originate from arthropods in their diet. This suggests that Blanchard’s cricket frogs may prefer food items that contain the chemicals components they use to produce toxins.

Blanchard’s cricket frogs can see colors, but they are particularly sensitive to detecting blue and green wavelengths of light. They are primarily nocturnal, and can detect low levels of light at night. They also can detect acoustic stimuli as high as 38 kHz. As tadpoles, Blanchard’s cricket frogs have a lateral line system that allows them to detect vibrations in the water. (Horne, et al., 2014; Perril and Shepherd, 1989; Wagner, 1989)

Food Habits

As tadpoles, Blanchard’s cricket frogs initially consume algae and vegetation, transitioning to small insects as they grow larger and undergo metamorphosis. As adults, Blanchard’s cricket frogs eat a wide variety of invertebrates on land and in the water. Although they mostly eat insects and non-insect arthropods, they also consume annelids, mollusks, and plant matter. Blanchard’s cricket frogs forage along the shoreline, on the surface of the water, or while submerged. A study from 1976 analyzed the stomach contents of 218 Blanchard’s cricket frogs and found that arthropods made up most of their diet (97.6%), with plant and other inorganic material comprising 1.4% and annelids and mollusks collectively comprising 1.0%. This study also found that larger frogs consumed a greater number of insects compared to small frogs, and the size of available insects influenced the amount of food they consumed. Rates of food consumption are closely related to their reproductive cycle. Females consume more food during the reproductive season, since they have a higher energetic demand while their eggs are developing. (Brattstrom, 1979; Harding, 2000; Johnson and Christiansen, 1976)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • mollusks
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • algae


Blanchard’s cricket frogs are eaten by dark wolf spiders (Tigrosa georgicola), northern watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon), and humans (Homo sapiens), as well as other snakes, birds, fish, and larger frogs. Blanchard’s cricket frogs hide among vegetation or sediment and typically run away when threatened. They jump onto shore to avoid aquatic predators and dive into water to avoid terrestrial predators. A study from 2013 noted that tadpoles undergo phenotypic changes in the presence of predators and frogs in fishless ponds were able to jump farther than frogs in ponds dominated by fish. A separate study from 2000 recorded vertical leaps over 90 cm and horizontal leaps of nearly 120 cm. Tadpoles and adults exhibit cryptic coloration, which helps them avoid detection from predators. Adults also produce toxins from granular glands on their dorsal sides, which further protects them from predators. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Gordon, et al., 2016; Hall, et al., 2013; Harding, 2000)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Blanchard’s cricket frogs consume a variety of arthropods, as well as some annelids and mollusks. They also serve as prey for snakes, spiders, birds, fish, and other frogs. Thus, they may influence population sizes of their prey species and their predators. Blanchard’s cricket frogs are hosts to parasites including ciliates such as Nyctotherus cordiformis, heterokonts in the genus Opalina, trematodes in the genus Clinostomum, and pinworms such as Gyrinicola batrachiensis. A 2017 study on Blanchard’s cricket frogs in Oklahoma found that 83% were infected with Gyrinicola batrachiensis. As adults, Blanchard’s cricket frogs frequently host multiple parasites at a time, which reduces their fitness and chances of survival. (Muzzall and Sonntag, 2012; Pierce, et al., 2017)

Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • Ciliates (Nyctotherus cordiformis)
  • Heterokonts (genus Opalina)
  • Trematodes (genus Clinostomum)
  • Pinworms (Gyrinicola batrachiensis)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Blanchard’s cricket frogs have no reported positive economic impacts on humans.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Blanchard’s cricket frogs have no reported negative economic impacts on humans.

Conservation Status

Blanchard’s cricket frogs have not yet been assessed on the IUCN Red List and thus have no special status. They also have no special status on the U.S. Federal List or on CITES. They are considered threatened in the state of Michigan and endangered in the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Population declines of Blanchard’s cricket frogs are attributed to human disturbance and pollution of breeding areas by fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. They are also affected by the spread of pathogens, such as chytrid, and the effects climate change, such as droughts, extremely cold winters, and habitat alteration along shorelines.

There are efforts to conserve Blanchard’s cricket frogs in Minnesota by funding surveys to locate and protect areas with remnant populations. The efforts were mostly unsuccessful, but one new population discovered in 2004 continues to be monitored by the state. Other conservation measures include maintaining wetlands and suggesting limits on fertilizer and pesticide use on farmlands, to prevent chemicals from polluting surrounding freshwater. (Michigan State University, 2021; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2022; Paloski, et al., 2012; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2020)

Other Comments

Blanchard’s cricket frogs were previously considered a subspecies of northern cricket frogs (Acris crepitans), but were redefined as a separate species in 1947.


Kayla Hudson (author), Radford University, Sierra Felty (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, Galen Burrell (editor), Special Projects.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


to jointly display, usually with sounds, at the same time as two or more other individuals of the same or different species


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

indeterminate growth

Animals with indeterminate growth continue to grow throughout their lives.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).


having more than one female as a mate at one time


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).


specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate


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