COLORFUL CRITTERS OF SUMMER
By Calvin Vick
Train Your Eyes For Tree Frogs
Have you ever looked out the window at night and seen grayish-green frogs stuck to the siding by an outside light? Most casual observers would say yes, and probably assume they're all the same species. Chances are, though, they're not.
Arkansas has 11 different species of tree frogs (scientific name: Hylidae), and two of the most common tree frogs look nearly identical, not to mention live in the same neighborhoods: the gray tree frog and Cope's gray tree frog.
Both the gray tree frog and Cope's gray tree frog have intricate, light gray to light green camouflage skin patterning–important for hiding from predators. To tell the difference, note that the Cope's has faint patterning on its back and head, while the gray tree frog generally has distinct black outlining, almost scribbles, on its back. Other differentiators are even more subtle. Tree frogs are common throughout Arkansas and are a vital part of the ecosystem.
Arkansas Airborne Artwork
Arkansas' official state butterfly, the Diana Fritillary is a large and beautiful species that lives in the moist mountain areas of the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks. Males and females, like most species, can be distinguished by looking at their wings. The maleís wings are two-tone, with black at the top and orange at the bottom. The females are radically different, being mostly black with white and light blue trimmings.
The smallish Swamp Metalmark inhabits, as you'd expect, swamps. This nectar-eating species occurs in northern Arkansas. The males have a pointed forewing, but other than that, both genders look the same. They are brown in the center and have oranges and reds on the tips of their wings.
The large Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly occurs in the deciduous forests of southwestern Arkansas. The sexes are nearly lookalikes–with wide black wings trimmed with white dots and the telltale swallowtail rear lobes–but the black on the female turns to metallic blue near the bottom of the topside, while the male's wings change to a bluish green.