Romeo & Juliet in the Rain Barrel
It has been a nice spring and early summer for frogs and toads. A pair of Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) made their home behind the rain barrel on the porch and he has serenaded her for the last month. They earned the names Romeo and Juliet since she was first noticed on the window sill when he was hanging out below on the lower wall. About dusk, he begins his musical trills and chortles, even making soft noises that sound like laughter; after one particularly active evening of singing, they decided to take a romantic swim and were discovered floating happily in the water of the rain barrel.
The female chooses the male based on his call and breeding occurs between April and August.
According to A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia published by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (and which each ORMN is issued at the beginning of the training course), the Gray Treefrog is 1.25-2.4 inches in length and typically has a dark star-shaped pattern and many minute warts on a gray to light green background. However, it can also be almost solid color with very subtle markings in order to blend in to their environment.They have a light spot beneath the eye and the inner thighs are orange or yellow.
The Gray Treefrog lives through the winter by producing a type of antifreeze from glycol in the cells. The glycol turns into glucose which keeps the frog from freezing. Its breathing and heartbeat then stop until the temperature warms up again.
Harvesting garden potatoes has slowed to an archaeological pace in order to protect the small Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii) frog. The only tool which can safely be used is a small trowel but the safest technique is to slowly move the soil aside by hand and wait to hear the startled squeak when the frogs are uncovered. They are named for the tiny dark spade on their back feet which they use to move soil aside and create cool burrows underground. These little frogs (1.75-3 inches long) are explosive breeders and usually remain buried, only emerging from their burrows after heavy rains to breed. During periods of extensive drought, they encapsulate themselves in an underground mud chamber to prevent moisture loss.
It is worth the extra time it takes to dig the potatoes in exchange for the insect-control benefits the Spadefoot offers.
Virginia is home to 27 species of frogs. Courtship and egg laying differs between the species and occurs starting in late winter and extending into fall. Water is needed for most species, where eggs are deposited which turn into tadpoles (larvae) followed by metamorphosis into frogs.
Difference between frogs and toads:
Have a blog or blog idea?
Let us know (click)
The Reading Corner
Books - Click Here
Field Guides - Click Here
VA Native Plant Society - click
Brenda Clement Jones - click
John Muir Laws' Blog - click
Megan's Nature Nook - click
VMN since 2018