It’s the third week of January and the rains have finally come. The very cold weather we had over the holidays turned into summer again. Even the tree frogs in the pond out front were complaining about the heat, and were quickly running out of suntan lotion. They couldn’t get any girls to come join them, even though they were singing their best songs. Now, this is a wonderful, gentle, rain; one that will allow the little green things to grow and won’t bring on those dreaded debris flows. Although I will say that those little rocks on the highway are probably worse than debris flows for your tires!
But, getting back to those tree frogs: we suspect there are a lot of folks in
We thought we knew a lot about tree frogs, but decided to do a little research. It turns out that these are Pacific Tree Frogs (Pseudacris regilla), also called the Pacific Chorus Frog. They are out there in your yard year-round, but the males move to the water in the winter to mate. They all call at the same time, very loudly. This lures the females to the water and they mate. The tadpoles hatch in one to three weeks. They feed on algae and pollen on the surface of the water, using a beak-like structure that helps scrape vegetation off surfaces. The tadpoles go through a metamorphosis about 3 months later. During the final stages of this transformation, when they have four limbs and a tail, they actually stop feeding for a short time while their mouth is transformed from herbivorous to carnivorous. When they transform into a frog, they feed on insects, spiders, flies and ants. They can actually stretch their bodies to accommodate insects much larger than they are!
Very briefly, frogs are thought to have descended from lobe-finned bony fish that emerged from the water and developed lungs and a neck. The Hylidae family appeared around 50 million years ago, followed closely by the Hyla genus, just after the dinosaurs became extinct. The genus originated in South America and expanded north into
More interesting: it turns out that tree frogs really do change colors between green and brown. It is thought that they change colors based on the brightness of their surroundings, perhaps influenced by the change in seasons. The color change can take place in weeks or months, but the initial changes occur very quickly. Scientists also think this color change is a useful survival feature, as the frogs melt into their surroundings. But, green or brown, the one identifiable marking is the dark stripe that goes over their eye from their nose to their shoulder.
Some quick facts: these are the most common frogs on the west coast of
So when it stops raining, or even before, go on outside and look for those little guys in your yard (or toilet). And, when it gets dark at night, we’re sure you’ll hear them singing, out in the pond or in the puddles, trying to attract the girls.
Terry Hallock and Feynner Arias