Subject: Gray Tree Frog
Geographic location of the bug: Campbell, Ohio
Time: 07:23 AM EDT
Daniel is currently out of the office for a month. He is spending time in Ohio in his family home, working in the garden and doing repairs and maintenance. Daniel has often stated that when asked many years ago (1998) to write a column in American Homebody that he decided to write What’s That Bug? because everyone wants to know the answer to that question. Furthermore, children, especially young boys loved bugs, and Daniel was no exception. If this is old-fashioned gender bias, Daniel apologizes, but in the sixties, most girls were not interested in bugs while boys were fascinated with all things that crawled. We would go to the pond to catch tadpoles in the spring, and tramping through fields and woods in search of critters was a year round activity, with winter being the best time to search for the cocoons of giant silk moths. At any rate, a small wading pool pond has been in the backyard for years and today it is more of an overgrown swamp than a clear pond, but the wildlife loves it. What a childhood dream it would have been to have frogs breeding in that pond and to have tadpoles there instead of goldfish.
So early in the morning Daniel spotted something on a peony leaf and he was stunned to see this little beauty, presumably a Gray Tree Frog, Hyla versicolor, which we located on the Ohio Amphibians website where it states: “Snout-vent length 3 to 5 cm (1 1/4 to inches). Skin is warty to granular. Gray ground color is typical of both species but they may change to green. Back is marked with an irregular lichen-like pattern and the undersides are white. A white patch occurs under the eyes. Inside of each thigh has a bright yellow flash mark visible when the legs are outstretched. Toe discs are large and distinctive.” Daniel did write to Jeff Davis to verify this species identification because though the Gray Tree Frog is reported in much of Ohio, there are no reports from Mahoning County.
According to Ohio Biota: “The Gray Treefrog is arguably the most charismatic frog of Lake County. Superficially, they resemble a toad with less bumpy skin and large toe pads. These frogs can change their dorsal coloration and may be gray, gray-brown, gray-green, or bright green. A darker lichen-like pattern, lightly outlined in black, decorates the back. Depending on the individual frog the back pattern can be pronounced or nearly absent. The belly is white and the inside of the thighs are bright yellow.” A half hour later, Daniel got the best image of the little critter, still sitting on a peony leaf, but looking a gorgeous blue-green color.
As the day got hotter and the sun got stronger, the Tree Frog sought shelter in the shade.
As dusk approached, it settled in for the night. Daniel heard the frogs calling nearby in the early evening, but not a sound from the part of the garden where the Tree Frog was found. Only males sing. Perhaps this is a female. Daniel knows that readers have been sending in identification requests, and this self indulgent posting took a great deal of time, but Daniel is fully aware that Amphibians are an indication of a healthy ecosystem, and Daniel’s Ohio yard is wildlife habitat in a field of manicured lawns that have few trees and that use pesticides to kill Japanese Beetle Grubs and herbicides to control dandelions, making those manicured lawns toxic wastes for wildlife.
If nothing else seeing this Tree Frog filled Daniel with a sense that he is doing the right thing in the way he will care for his family homestead, and it is fully supporting that the key to solving global warming (other than addressing overpopulation which is out of control) is for each person to try to make the world a better place. So, in light of this historic sighting in his Ohio back yard, Daniel is declaring the Tree Frog the Bug of the Month for August 2021.