Tortricid Moth Eggs, and Little Frogs

2014 July 26

Sandy found this patch of green eggs on a lilac leaf on July 21, 2013. The patch was about a centimeter in diameter (about the size of a fingerprint).

I tried keeping them to raise up, but they never actually hatched, so this is as far as we got. The fact that it was on lilac didn’t help much, I didn’t find anyone reporting similar eggs on lilacs. From general appearance, a likely possiblitity looks like some type of Tortricid moth. This is a substantial family of smallish moths, and the caterpillars tend to roll up leaves to hide in while they eat them.

Well, that’s only one picture, so let’s have another one, largely unrelated aside from being out at the same time.The next day after finding the eggs, Sandy also caught this little fellow in the yard. It was very tiny, only about the size of a cricket.

At first, I thought this was a tree frog. But if it was, then it would have been easy to identify, since our reference books only list five species of tree frogs[1] in Michigan (and fewer in the UP). But, it really doesn’t look like a Chorus Frog, a Gray Treefrog, a Spring Peeper, or even a Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (which isn’t even supposed to live up here)

In fact, it doesn’t appear to be a tree frog at all, and is only small because it is immature. It looks like it might have incipient “warts” on its back, which would indicate it’s a toad. And American Toads transform from tadpoles to little “toadlets” in late June or early July, so since it was July 22, this one could easily be a toadlet that just got its legs. And in fact, it does look a great deal like an american toadlet.

This next one, on the other hand, certainly is a tree frog. Sam found it in a bush during our visit to Sandy’s parents in Manchester on August 1, 2013, and we can clearly see the little traction pads on the ends of its toes that help it stick to trees and other surfaces.

Based on the possible candidates in Michigan, it might be a Gray Tree frog, which has a few different color phases (one of which is grassy green, the other is gray). The pictures in the hard-copy version of “Michigan Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders” look a lot more like our specimen here than the on-line photos do.

There are actually two species of gray tree frog, with overlapping ranges, that look so similar that you can’t tell them apart other than by carefully listening to the songs of the males, or by DNA analysis (one of the species has undergone a “tetraploid” mutation, which means that it has doubled all of its chromosomes so that it now has twice as many as were in the parent species. This is a fairly common mutation that is frequently a starting point for a new species).

These are about as small as terrestrial vertebrates get, this particular species wasn’t much bigger than a large cricket. Still, with their wide mouths, frogs are quite capable of eating things nearly as big as they are, so this frog would be quite capable of eating a cricket (although it would probably prefer something smaller).

[1] I was initially expecting it to be a tree frog because we have a lot of tree frogs within shouting distance of our house. As in, on spring evenings we can hear them shouting, “Love me! Looooove mmeeeeeee!” in their tiny froggy voices on warm nights through most of the month of May. And there are so many of them that the sound is deafening[2] if you happen to walk back into the swampy areas where they intend to lay eggs. We can usually make out several different types of calls, but we never actually seem to be able to find them. Their camouflage is excellent, and they shut up as soon as you get within about ten feet of them.


3 Responses
  1. July 26, 2014

    The Backyard Amphibian Project would be complete much sooner. I’m glad you didn’t go that way.


  2. JennR permalink
    July 26, 2014

    We have often had to close the windows on otherwise delightful June evenings because the froggies were making so much noise that the kids couldn’t sleep,. And we don’t even live that close to a swamp! (Down by the wetlands closer to town, they’re even louder. )

  3. July 28, 2014

    KT: No kidding. Even going for the Backyard Herpetology project, we would only have had about 8 possible species of frogs/toads, 5 snakes, 4 salamanders, maybe 6 turtles, and at most one lizard[1], for a total of around 24 postings all told.

    [1] We have several wildlife guides published by Michigan State University, one of which is titled “Michigan Turtles and Lizards”, but I think the title should be “Michigan Turtles and Lizard“, because there’s really only one serious native lizard species (the Five-Lined Skink). Oh, they claim that there is a population of Six-Lined Racerunners in Tuscola County , but they evidently haven’t been sighted there since 2004, and it was never settled whether they were “native”, or somebody’s released pets.

Comments are closed.