Rural Perspectives: Eastern gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor)

The eastern gray tree frog lives in trees. Photo credit Diane Constable

by Diane Constable

You never know where you might find the adorable eastern gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor). I found this guy taking a nap in one of my day lily flowers. I also have found them on windows and screens looking for insects that are attracted to the outside lights, and I even had one take up residence in a bluebird house.

These native frogs are most likely to be observed in spring and early to mid summer. They are great to have around not only because they are a neat frog — they also eat a lot of annoying insects!

Tree frogs live most their lives in trees, but come down to earth during the summer, when it is time to lay eggs. The females search for a shallow pond, marsh or wetland near a wooded area to lay their eggs in batches of about 40. They eventually lay over 1,000 eggs. It takes about 2 months for the tadpoles to turn to frogs, and about 2 years before they are fully mature. They can live up to 9 years.

The adults are about 1 to 2.5 inches long and can be gray, green or brown. The tree frogs will change color depending on their surroundings. Their scientific name “veriscolor” means variable color in Latin. Depending on the temperature, they can “trill” up to 34 times per second —  but usually only at night. They create a sticky substance on their feet which helps them to climb the trees — and windows and screens — in their search for food.

Fun Fact: During winter, the tree frog slows down its metabolism and also produces glycerol to help keep it from totally freezing.

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