What Made the Frogs Go Quiet?

The Question: I live by Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. Early spring, we hear hundreds if not thousands of frogs, all day and all night. Then….nothing, not one froggy peep. What happened? Did they leave? Or do they only do their frog noises for mating season? They were quite vocal for a few weeks and then all stopped!  But about four days later I heard maybe a few again.  I really don’t hear too much of the frogs now, which is weird.  As hot as it has been and living a stone throw from Lake Minnetonka I would think that frogs would make noise continuously.

Submitted by: Fran, MN, USA

wood frogThe Short Answer: Frogs and toads only call when they are breeding. The calls are basically advertisements to females to come closer and to males to stay away. Of course, a calling frog also says to every predator in the area, “Here I am. Come and eat me.” So basically, frogs use their calls to get mates and then they shut up. The breeding season of each species is different, however. Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica), for example, start calling when there is still ice on the ponds and call like crazy for a few weeks and then don’t make another sound the rest of the year. Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana), on the other hand, don’t start calling until mid-late spring and then continue well into summer. Even during their mating season, frogs and other amphibians can be very sensitive to environmental factors in terms of when they call. It’s impossible to know what flipped the switch on your frogs without knowing which species you were hearing and what the weather conditions were, but if I had to take a wild stab, I would guess that you had a few hot and/or windy days and the frogs stopped to wait for better conditions.

spring peeperMore Information: Researchers have studied when frogs call and what fires them up. They want to know this out of basic scientific curiosity, and also because wildlife managers use frog calling as a way to gauge population levels. With so many amphibians in decline in the U.S. and around the world, finding ways to track population levels is a key conservation tool.

There are many factors that seem to affect frog calling levels, and each species is affected differently, but a few key ones are air and water temperature, wind speed, relative humidity, and barometric pressure. Temperature is key because both the frogs and their eggs and tadpoles are adapted to different temperature levels and frogs that mate and lay eggs at a time when the water is too hot or too cold for their offspring to develop well will not leave many descendants. For example, one study in New Brunswick, Canada found that spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) called when the water temperature was as low as 39 oF (4 oC), but they stopped calling when the water temperature went above 71 upland chorus frogoF (22 oC). Bullfrogs, on the other hand, don’t call at all until the water warmed up to 60 oF (16 oC)  and they kept going until it was 79 oF (26 oC).

Wind speed and relative humidity may play a role because frogs are susceptible to drying, and since calling for most frogs requires being out of the water, exposure to drying wind is a problem.  Wind noise may also drown out the calls.  Since calling takes a lot of energy, there’s no sense in wasting all that energy if no one can hear.

The remarkable thing is that because all of the frogs of any one species in one area are similarly adapted to conditions of that locality, they can all switch on or switch off with amazing synchronicity. One night, the chorus frogs (Pseudacris feriarum) are calling like crazy, and the next night there is silence. High temperature in particular seems to have this effect. And the effect of high temperature is fairly universal across many species of amphibians, which is why I suspect that if you had several species calling and then silence, it was probably a rise in temperature that switched them all off at once.


Oseen, K, & Wassersug, R. (2002). Environmental factors influencing calling in sympatric anurans. Oecologia, 133(4), 616-625.

Cite this article as: Pelletier, TC. (June 17, 2011). What Made the Frogs Go Quiet? Retrieved from http://askanaturalist.com/what-made-the-frogs-go-quiet/ on July 3, 2020.

51 thoughts on “What Made the Frogs Go Quiet?”

  1. This is just the most interesting and informative site! I do love frogs, but you always find the most fascinating information to share with us, no matter what the topic. Keep up the great work!

  2. Fantastic! Thank you so much for taking the time and research! It must be a brief mating time again since the frogs once again are being rather vocal.

  3. I live in Illinois and there is a shallow pond next to our house. We moved here last summer and did not hear any bullfrog calls last year. This spring we started hearing tis noise aNd did not know what it was. Upon asking our neighbors we found out they were bull frogs. They make so much noise that I had to get a noise machine at night to help me sleep. Is there something we could do or call an agency to help with this?

  4. Hi, I’m not sure there is anything you can do to stop the frogs croaking other than drain the pond or kill all the frogs, and neither of those is likely to be legal. Could you maybe put up a fence that would at least deflect the sound? Tom

  5. I relealize this s an older article, but you have bullfrogs do not call out until the water warmed up to 60 degrees centigrade, or 168 degrees F.

    Maybe a test to make sure we were reading the entire article !

  6. Yikes! I’ll fix that. Thanks for pointing it out. We don’t want to have people cooking frogs to see if they croak!

  7. On a given night the frogs near our house will all croak for some time and then all stop at once for 30 seconds to a minute or so. Then one frog will start and others will chime in until the chorus is as loud as ever. This repeats many times during the night. Why do they do this, and how do they communicate so that they all stop at once?

  8. Same here! They seem to compete for length of croak and alternate back and forth. Then, briefly, they all stop. I think it’s funny as I picture them competing for the mate.l have a frog phobia but sitting at my deck at night, it’s a great connection to nature!

  9. We have Spring Peepers in their thousands at our pond. When it rains the chorus is deafening. Last night the racket turned into a single sound like a fire alarm siren, never heard this before, comments anyone?

  10. I have lived on a lake in northern Indiana for the past twelve years and every year the bull frogs are enough to irritate just about anyone but this year (2016) there are no bull frogs at all and the lake is protected by the state and there has been no predators or natural changes that would of made 1000’s of bull frogs to disappear and to top it all off my wife and I have seen strange lights floating above the lake this summer if anyone has been wondering what’s happened to the bull frogs please share your story maybe it will lead to some serious answers besides natural conditions because they’ve been perfect for bull frogs on my lake there has been no bull frog bodies anywhere so is it out of this world why the bull frogs have disappeared

  11. Hi Andrew, any possiibility that a new fish species has been introduced? Or that the state is stocking the lake with trout? What is the name of the lake?

  12. I can’t believe someone would dislike the sound of frogs….I actually find it puts me to sleep. I really miss it when it gets cold and they stop.

  13. Normailly here in Costa Rica we enjoy frog songs. There have been no frog songs at all in the area where I live in 2016 which is weird because for the last 25 years I heard them always in rainy season, this year I didnt hear anything. Last year we had very hot temperatures…Yet our rainy season was extra long and great so I wonder what happened to All the frogs and toads this year???!!!

    I just hope the frog songs come back some day because I love hearing and seeing them.

  14. Thanks for sharing. We recently moved into a home with 2 large ponds. They never shut up! I hope they are just mating. They don’t even compare to the beautiful sound of the Puerto Rican frog. They go back and forth at all different times and keep you up all night. It’s not soothing. I would never kill them, but I want to.

  15. HI Kim, I’m sorry to hear that the frogs are driving you nuts. Where do you live?

  16. Hello I’m Susan and always love the sounds of God’s creation of beautiful music. I must say I enjoy your article of why they sing and next day silence.

  17. I am in northeastern Ohio and live in a heavily wooded area. It has been a cold and rainy spring here which has delayed the opening of my above ground pool. A community of gray tree frogs have decided to make my pool their breeding pond! I literally had thousands of tadpoles in the water on top of my pool cover. My husband and I painstakingly caught ALL of them and relocated them to a nearby marshy pond. The frogs have been incredibly loud, every night, but have completely stopped now that we removed the taddies and opened the pool! Any thoughts??

  18. Hi Twintucky,
    Frog mating is often triggered by weather conditions. Did you have a change in weather? Hotter or cooler, wetter or drier? Thanks for your efforts to save all those frogs!! Tom at AskaNaturalist.com

  19. I love frogs and toads. We still have a number. It will die down in late June. In August, the crickets will start.

  20. I love our frogs. Northeast ohio, woods, by the chagrin river – I’ve got 7 different frogs in backyard, and 4 toads. The best is they will all have a jam session some nights – literally every species sings their heart out by our pond. But nights like tonight, for whatever reason – there is absolute radio silence – except for boss bulldog – making announcement every 15 minutes. Temp drop & confusing sounds? Went from 90 to 65; fireworks &distant thunder? The quiet is weird though! Oh and I brake for frogs. Have toads living by our deck that will come out nightly & hop in my hand to say hi 🙂 love em!

  21. I am like Susan, there’s nothing soothing about a bullhorn sounding off all night long, I wouldn’t care if they didn’t exist. I am a nature person but, when it comes to the bullfrog they could get lost in the burmuda triangle if you ask me. When working hard all day with long hours, you just want peace and quiet and rest, not the any annoyance of a noisy amphibians, very little noise during the day, but the minute it gets dark, it now becomes a long drooling night of madness for myself and my husband, I would love to have the pond dried up.

  22. Hi Betty, I think you must have meant Kim. Susan said she loves the sound of frogs, but Kim is the one who sounds like she might have fantasies of serving a frog’s leg feast to the entire town. I assume your pond is not a backyard pond that you could, in fact, drain? I’m sorry they bother you. Personally, I like them, but I could probably fall asleep during a hurricane, so I’m not a good guide. Have you tried earplugs on the nights when they’re making you crazy?

  23. Appreciate this article! We are new owners of a property with a HUGE and shallow pond that is absolutely LOADED with frogs, turtles, and catfish. All spring and summer we delighted in all the various frog songs, and then BAM – they all went silent. I was worried, not having experience with the “frog seasons.” But now I’m relieved to know that calling for mates (and mating, too I suppose) takes a lot of energy, and that they are resting from that now – but still around. 🙂 P.S. The birds are also very quiet, too! Perhaps for the same reasons? I’d like to learn more about the quietness of the birds, too, at this “August” season. I am in upstate N.Y.

  24. Hi 🙂 My swimming pool has been neglected for over a year.
    It’s a large property & my neighbors alerted me to the noise of frogs at night. Last night I went to the pool & the noise was VERY loud ! The pool is soon to be drained & renovated but I don’t want to kill the frogs in the process.
    Is there any way of saving / sparing them when the pool is drained ?
    Thanks Colin ccty@mweb.co.za

  25. Any idea what kind of frogs? The basic answer is to catch them when the water is drained down, and take them to the nearest natural body of water, but my answer might differ somewhat depending on what kind of frog they are. Tom from Ask a Naturalist.

  26. I was just sitting at my porch one night… frogs were loud as can be. Then, in one instant, they all stopped. I sat there…. for about 1 minute… and then they all started back up again.
    Weirdest thing.

  27. I think they are sensitive to the following: predators (owls, raccoons & ?? Is roaming around)…weather – when the barometric pressure drops/ rises quickly – they quiet, esp if a storm approaches; while song heightens with warm temps rise; particular “soloists” in the choir that have a lovely, if unheard song. Really – they are an orchestra if you listen closely. Join the call – even to a soloist & they always answer – unless predator or storm is imminent.

  28. My frogs went silent last night. I hope it is not because I had the house perimeter sprayed for ticks, but not mosquitos. They said not a danger for people and pets. Did not say reptiles. The frog chorus seems to go quiet when the dogs go outside for the last time, and when I turn the lights out.

  29. Hi Laurie, frogs usually croak throughout the breeding season. For some species, that is a couple of weeks, but for others, it is several months. Any idea what kind of frog(s) you have? If it is bullfrogs, their season is usually two or three months depending on where you are.

  30. Great info and love the discussion about who enjoys the concerts, and who doesn’t. I came across this site because of the sudden quiet and slow startup rhythm of tonight. We just had a good rain today (In woods of central NC) and more than just bullfrogs seem to be in the jam. The volume is certainly higher than usual! Thanks again for your input Tom.

  31. We live on a large lake in South Jersey. Every spring they start croaking in April and it goes on for months. We had many sleepless nights even with the use of ear plugs. So my husband starting catching them with his fishing rod and transporting them by boat across the other side of the lake. That has helped quiet down the area for a few days until another one shows up. It’s just been in the last couple weeks that they stopped croaking. So I guess the mating season is done. Hooray!

  32. I love the sound of frogs. We have two ponds not 100 feet from my front door. I will open the windows so I can hear the frogs, the wind, the birds, ect. Nature is the sound of music to my ears. I lived in the city. Trains, car horns, sirens, thumping base from car/truck stereo’s you can feel in your body, people yelling and screaming. Frogs sound like piece and quiet to me.

  33. We have a pond on the north side of our house east of Kamloops (in the southern interior of BC) and have Pacific chorus frog and Great Basin Spadefoot tadpoles every summer. The mature chorus frogs really like the south side of our house under the 2nd-story deck and often tuck in around the lower-level door which leads to mishaps, like frogs falling on my head or getting caught in the latch, when I operate the door. Now, in late October, they are croaking loudly under the deck at days end when it is only 45 degrees F. It is freezing every night and any eggs/tadpoles would surely get frozen in the pond. So what are they croaking about? One would think they should be getting snug for the winter.

  34. I grew up in MN in the 1970’s. As a kid amphibians were everywhere, same as bugs and moths and birds. Today they have been virtually eliminated.
    I have no proof but I’d have to guess Roundup. Look at the graphs of species decline and overlay it with roundup usage. Between that and the ag plowing of half the state for profit and ethanol, the frogs are gone and won’t be coming back until our own population collapses. If it’s even still possible. Heck of a job, USA!

  35. There is a pond in the woods behind my house here in Ohio. It is April and weve had rain today. Right now Im loving listening to them sing me to sleep. As a child in Sacramento California I fell asleep to their lovely peeping too. The natural music is relaxing and comforting.

  36. My wife and I just bought a property in January and yesterday, the frogs started to drive me nuts. They laid their eggs in our pool which made me frustrated. My wife says she likes the sound of them croaking but I hate it so much. I hope their mating season is only a couple of days. I put enough chlorine in my pool to discourage any of them feom getting in. Gosh I hate them so much.

  37. So sorry for you, Diko. Personally, I love the sound of frogs and insects at night, but I can see how if you don’t like them, it would literally be a nightmare. My only suggestion would be to cover the pool in the spring. I don’t know where you live. Are you already using it? If not, maybe just keep it covered till the end of May or something. Was there chlorine in it already when the frogs laid eggs? I’m a little surprised they would use water that had chlorine in it. I guess that would be the other solution, maybe. Start chlorinating it earlier in the season. Tom

  38. We have a pond in our back yard about 25 yards from the house. Every spring we wait with anticipation for the frogs to start singing. To my family it is a sweet, soothing, white noise that lulls us to sleep. As others have mentioned here, it’s crazy how they’ll all be singing at once & then it’s radio silence. We prefer the singing to the silence. As our kids have gone off to college each of them has commented how they miss the frogs croaking in the spring.

  39. I’m lying in bed with insomnia. I thought where are the peepers for days/nights they have been loudly singing, as well as the tree frogs. I absolutely love the sound of them. Just last night they were singing like mad and tonight silence but the bull frogs have begun their chorus. I thought as I have for the last 19 years I’ve lived here, where do the peepers go when the bull frogs come? So I googled and found “Ask a Naturalist”! Thank you for your very informative article! I’d be happy if all the frogs sang all spring, summer and fall. I have other country neighbors who cant stand hearing them which always made me feel sad.

    I’ve always loved frogs and toads…and like another writer, I brake for frogs/toads on roads. 🙂

    I often wondered if they all stopped singing at once some evenings because an animal came by or they heard something? Then when they feel safe? They start singing again? My daughter and I would sit by the pond and you could put a bug on a stick and they’d come up to you to eat it.

  40. Hi Debbie, thanks for your note. I’ve never heard of people feeding wild frogs. That’s amazing. Were these the peepers or the bullfrogs? Tom

  41. Tonight the crickets are singing but unlike a few days ago, the frogs are silent. I found a pretty green one about the size of a plum. It was 16 steps up the stairs on my glass door. It must of climbed up the vinyl siding. I took it down and pointed it towards the pond and it leaped towards it. I am sure it was a prince.

  42. This is crazy… Just read this article as I’m sitting on my back deck and the (I think tree frogs) frogs were going crazy… The wind picks up and they stop. Crickets are still going but the frogs have stopped.

  43. July 2017 bought a property with neglected pool and converted it to a pond with bog plantings on three sides, for the frogs, dragonflies, etc. Moved in May 2018 and the peepers and frogs were loud and delightful. This year not a peep. In the entire neighborhood I’ve heard only one variety calling and only about 7 individuals in a multi-block radius. Could Koi in my pond be responsible for the lack of noise in my pond? What about the rest of the neighborhood?
    In addition, I see very few flying insects around a neighbor’s flood light. Located SW Indiana.
    Praying this is a temporary, isolated experience. Missing my sounds of nature.

  44. It seems the frogs, which have been singing for months, will suddenly stop mid summer for some reason, as if finally done with what they were trying to do. But then, just when they stop, crickets start up their nightly chorus.

    I never noticed this timing thing before. And perhaps i’m mistaken, but that’s how it seemed to me. Maybe because their singing sounds similar they don’t oversing each other out of respect, or so as not to confuse each other…

    Should be studied.

  45. Hi Ron, you might be onto something there. I don’t know where you are, but where I am in the northeast, the next thing is the katydids. Tom

  46. I read somewhere, maybe here?? That the singing is for mating and the drive for mating overcomes their fears of being eaten by predators. Once mating is done, they go silent. In my backyard pond, the peepers start in March and seem to sing for months, then one day they just stop, but the bullfrogs begin. About 3 or 4 days ago we had a hot humid day, 90 out. I was sitting in my room and heard the peepers singing! I think the heat and humidity got them dreaming of spring again and mating…next day plunged into the 50s.

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