Northern Cricket Frog Acris crepitans

Description: Adult Morphology: A small, gray or tan frog with warty skin. Cricket frogs often have a green or rusty red stripe down the middle of the back, though it is not present in many individuals. Local populations vary; in some areas, unstriped frogs are the most common, while in others, most frogs have this stripe. Ventral coloration is white. Another distinguishing feature is a dark triangle that is often present between the eyes of the frog.

Size: Cricket Frogs grow to be from 5/8 to 1 and 1/2 inch long.

Larvae: Tadpoles are small and dark with slight mottling and a black tip to the tail.

Eggs: Eggs are laid in small clusters attached to aquatic vegetation.

Similar Species: Cricket frogs are most likely to be confused with chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata complex)or spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer). However, these two species do not have the granular skin of a cricket frog. Also, chorus frogs can usually be distinguished by three stripes running down their backs, and spring peepers have a characteristic “X” on the back.

Distribution: The northern cricket frog is found throughout much of the central and eastern United States. They occur in the west from Texas into Nebraska and southeastern Iowa and in the east from Georgia into southeastern New York. They are largely absent from the Appalachian Mountains.

Cricket frogs range across Indiana, but they have become increasingly uncommon in the northern half of the state.

Activity: Cricket frogs are active from mid-March to November, both during day and night and are occasionally found during mild winter weather.

Breeding Season: This species is a summer breeder and has a prolonged breeding season, calling both day and night during the summer. Calling begins calling in late April and continues through July, though sporadic calls can be heard during rain in the following months.

Taxonomy: Cricket frogs belong to the genus Acris and the family Hylidae, which also includes Indiana’s members of the genus Hyla and Pseudacris.

Ecology: Habitat: Cricket frogs are most often found in permanent wetlands with ample submergent and emergent vegetation. They will also inhabit small creeks, rivers, lakes, and ponds and can be abundant around beaver-created wetlands and lowland swamps. Cricket frogs can be incredibly abundant in many areas, especially in southern Indiana. Populations in northern Indiana may be subject to more drastic variations due to harsher winter conditions.

Diet: This species feeds on small invertebrates, and is preyed upon by watersnakes, among other predators.

Reproduction and Life History: Cricket frogs breed from late April to July in quiet, shallow aquatic situations. Eggs are laid in small clusters attached to aquatic vegetation. Tadpoles transform in mid-summer.

Call: Their call is often likened to marbles clanking together. Once a chorus picks up, it can be nearly deafening at certain locations. Although it would seem that the loud calls of the males would give away their location, they can still be very difficult to spot in the vegetation.

Conservation: This is considered a species of special concern in Indiana and recently there has been much concern over declining populations in the northern portion of its range. These local, sudden population declines may be somewhat natural for such a short-lived frog that overwinters so shallowly underground and severe winters may result in large die offs of adults. However, even if this is the case, habitat fragmentation would reduce the source-sink dynamics that would allow for recolonization of wetlands following such winter die offs.

Literature

Brodman, R. 2003. Amphibians and Reptiles from Twenty-three Counties of Indiana. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science 112.1:43-54.

Conant, R. and J. T . Collins. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin, New York, New York

Engbrecht, N., S. Klueh, and J. Mirtl. 2011. Acris crepitans. Northern Cricket Frog. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 42.1:106.

Leininger, L. and P. Nanjappa. 2000. Acris crepitans. Northern Cricket Frog. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 31.3:181.

Minton, S. A. Jr. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN

Nanjappa, P. and L. Leininger. 2000. Acris crepitans. Northern Cricket Frog. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 31.3:181.

Timm, A. and V. Meretsky. 2011. Anuran Habitat use on Abandoned and Reclaimed Mining Areas of Southwestern Indiana. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science 113.2:140-146.

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)
Photographs