Currently viewing the category: "Amphibians"

Subject:  Gray Tree Frog
Geographic location of the bug:  Campbell, Ohio
Date: 07/28/2021
Time: 07:23 AM EDT
Gentle Readers,
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.

Gray Tree Frog 7:23 AM

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.

Gray Tree Frog 7:55 AM

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.

Gray Tree Frog hiding from hot sun 1:12 PM

As the day got hotter and the sun got stronger, the Tree Frog sought shelter in the shade.

Gray Tree Frog 7:48 PM

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.


Subject:  Red spotted desert toad
Geographic location of the bug:  Kolob canyon utah
Date: 07/22/2021
Time: 11:55 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Noticed you don’t have any pictures of the red spotted desert toad. Please add this to your collection. Taken June 2021 Kolob canyon Utah.
How you want your letter signed:  Courtney

Red Spotted Desert Toad

Dear Courtney,
Thanks so much for submitting your images of the Red Spotted Desert Toad,
Bufo punctatus, after noticing its conspicuous absence in our archives.  According to Desert Museum:  “This toad is found from southern Nevada to southwestern Kansas, south to Hidalgo, Mexico, and throughout Baja California. It occurs from below sea level up to 7000 feet (1980 m).”

Red Spotted Desert Toad

Subject:  syrhpid fly id
Geographic location of the bug:  nashville, tn
Date: 04/25/2019
Time: 05:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you help me id this syprhid fly?
How you want your letter signed:  Naturalista

Cave Salamander

Dear Naturalista,
We would love to attempt to identify your Syrphid Fly, however, you attached an image of a Salamander.  Assuming that this image is also from Nashville, Tennessee, we suspect this is a Cave Salamander,
Eurycea lucifuga, which we located on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency site where it states the habitat is:  “Primarily cave entrances and ‘twilight zones’ of caves, where light is weak. Occasionally in forests, springs, or streams.”  According to Animal Diversity Web:  “Most frequently found in the twilight zone of caves, but also occasionally under logs and rocks in the surrounding moist forests more than a kilometer away from the nearest cave (Conant and Collins, et. al, 1995, Petranka 1998). The twilight area of a cave is the area just inside the entrance where there is some light, but not enough for plants to grow (Taylor 1999).”  We would love to know more about this particular sighting.  If you would still like that Syrphid Fly identified, please resubmit the image using the Ask WTB? link on our site. 

Subject:  I think these are eggs….
Geographic location of the bu:  Ontario Canada
Date: 12/24/2018
Time: 05:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, I have a vivarium for Poison Dart Frogs and found some small white nodules growing under a piece of wood. My hope is that this is some sort of fungus or mold. But my concern is that these are the eggs of some bug that could do harm to my frogs or their eggs.
The piece of wood was harvested many years ago from a forest in Ontario. I included a picture of the wood with suspicious object, as well as a picture of my cute frog!
Happy Holidays
How you want your letter signed:  Jason Kemp

Growth in Dart Frog Vivarium

Dear Jason,
These do not appear to be eggs, and we believe your suspicion that they might be fungus or mold is probably correct.  Friends of ours in the Los Angeles area formerly bred Poison Dart Frogs.  They had several pairs that bred in bromeliads, but alas, the vivariums were discovered by invasive Argentine Ants that killed the frogs.

Subject:  Amphibian?
Geographic location of the bug:  West Michigan, Holland
Date: 10/07/2017
Time: 09:07 PM EDT
Came on my stoop during a rainstorm
How you want your letter signed: Brian

Red-Backed Salamandar

Dear Brian,
This is definitely a Salamandar, an Amphibian.  We looked at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Salamandar page, and your individual looks most like the Red-Backed Salamandar,
Plethodon cinereus.  According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:  “A thin bodied little salamander that occurs in two common color phases. The ‘redback’ phase has a reddish or orange stripe down the back and tail, bordered by darker sides. The ‘leadback’ phase lacks the stripe, and has a dark colored back, sometimes speckled with faint light spots. In both the belly is mottled with a white and gray ‘salt and pepper’ pattern. Adults are 2.3 to 5 inches (5.8 to 12.7 cm) long.”  The site also states:  “Found state wide in woodlands, especially deciduous woods with thick leaf litter and many decaying logs or stumps. Food is mostly small insects and other invertebrates.”


Subject: New Jersey leech like insect
Location: Gloucester County New Jersey, USA
August 2, 2017 8:17 pm
I have standing water on my property that is there from rain, not spring feed, today while looking at the water, I noticed these flat brownish insects in the water, I don’t remember seeing these bugs before, I thought they might be leeches but every picture I googled of leeches showed them being black. Also these bugs have pitchers, please help, thank you,
Signature: D. Clement

Water Tiger and Tadpoles

Dear D. Clement,
This appears to be a predatory larva of an aquatic beetle, commonly called a Water Tiger.  It is surrounded by Tadpoles, and they are most likely its prey.