Yesterday on Michigan in Pictures, I featured the Northern Green Frog (Rana clamitans). A scant hour later, I got an email from Laura Bien of the Ann Arbor Chronicle letting me know about her article, In the Archives: The Toad Survey of 1910. Her piece is a delightful ramble through the history and present day of frogs & toads in Ypsilanti. In addition to the survey of 1910, she looks at Michigan’s 13 species of anuran (frogs & toads) including:
…Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (whose name) honors University of Michigan herpetologist and zoology professor Frank Nelson Blanchard, a onetime student of Museum of Natural History director Alexander Ruthven, who also served as UM president from 1929 to 1951.
Regarded in his time as the nation’s leading snake expert, Blanchard identified several new species â€“ and named one for Ruthven, the king snake Lampropeltis ruthveni. After one collecting trip that netted 457 snakes from Lake Michigan’s Hog Island, near the tip of the lower peninsula, a colleague dubbed Blanchard â€œThe St. Patrick of Hog Island.â€
Blanchard died in 1937. He did not name his own frog; naturalist Francis Harper did that when identifying it a decade later. Presumably the naming was a tribute, though the criteria Harper listed as identifiers of the animal included a warty head, a fat snout, and a bulky, mottled underbelly.
Blanchard’s Frog is currently a â€œspecies of concernâ€ in Michigan, and the state is especially interested in survey volunteers’ reports of its cricket-like call.