Trilling Treefrogs

When someone mentions treefrogs, do you picture the brightly colored tropical rainforest variety? Would it surprise you to learn that we have treefrogs right here in our local woodlands? We do.

treefrogThe gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) is native to the northeastern United States. Distinguishing characteristics, if you are lucky enough to find a gray treefrog, are the large toe disks that help it to climb vertical surfaces, and the small white rectangular spot beneath each eye. Hidden on the undersides of the hind legs is a surprising flash of orange color. The adult’s grayish body is roughly textured and blends in perfectly with tree bark. While resting, it tucks its two front feet under its chin and flattens itself against the bark or other surface. It is believed that in this position the treefrog is not only well camouflaged, but also casts no shadow, allowing it to conceal itself from predators, like birds and snakes.

Though our treefrogs may not advertise themselves with screaming neon patterns of color, they do reveal themselves vocally. That loud trilling you hear somewhere up in the trees may not be a red-bellied woodpecker after all, but a male gray treefrog. Be content to know that it is a treefrog; chances are slim that you will ever locate it.

Encounters with gray treefrogs are usually unexpected and quite special. Some people have found trilling adults in spring on the pool covers of aboveground pools where rainwater has collected. These treefrogs climbed the sides of the pool to mate and lay eggs. On a humid summer night you may detect one on the outside of a window, attracted to the insects attracted to the light. The startling discovery of many tiny bright green treefroglets in your lawn and garden in the summer is an unforgettable experience and indicates that a wetland nearby supports a breeding population. Enjoy your chance encounters with gray treefrogs – many people have yet to see one.

Submitted by Cindi Kobak

Photo by Cindi Kobak