The initial pics in this post I took just to illustrate something, but we’re going to flesh it out a little more than that. Some time back, I found a pale green assassin bug (Zelus luridus) on my butterfly bush and moved it over onto the nearby ornamental sweet potato, potentially trying to interest one of the tiny frogs there in the meal; I had tried to place it within easy sight of a frog that was basking out in the open, but my close approach spooked the amphibian deeper into hiding, so no luck there. A few days later, however, I came out onto the porch to see the view in the image above, with the frog sharing the same leaf as an assassin and showing no interest in it. While I could potentially credit this to the frog remaining unaware of the stealthy assassin behind it (look out!) I have since seen a few more assassins on the same plant, so the three frogs living there aren’t exactly keeping them off. I’m guessing the assassins are unpalatable to the frogs.
I took the pic in this manner to show the differences in approach. Given that both subjects were little better than ankle-height to a human, too many people seeking photos would take the above perspective. It illustrates well enough, but it’s pretty boring – the straight-down view doesn’t provide a lot of personality, and we get just a voyeuristic impression. Contrast that against my next frame, shot immediately afterward:
I think it’s hard to argue which view is better; not only does this one eradicate the flat perspective of the original and provide some depth, it gives a more portrait-angle to both subjects, and makes the frog much cuter. And another aspect: it shows the expanding grey coloration of the frog, especially when compared with previously. And so, I went in a little closer, though it served to blur out the assassin more and lost the effect of showing them off together.
There is little doubt in my mind now that these are juvenile Copes grey treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis,) with a high likelihood of being among the tadpole brood featured here, and very likely to offspring of the pair atop the fence post seen here. I like being able to illustrate a life cycle in this manner.
But if they are all related, there still seems to be a fair amount of variation that can occur, because this next pic is one of the three (or at least, as certain as I can be,) but it has gone completely grey.
Naturally, I’m going to talk about false impressions, because while this image illustrates the color nicely, the frog isn’t exactly enthused-looking – it actually appears depressed. I doubt any such state can really be achieved by amphibians, and in this case it’s likely nonsense even if it were possible. The frog is just basking once the sun was now high enough to illuminate the leaves, gaining some heat from the chill of the nights, but it’s not alarmed by my approach and possibly trying to snooze. While it looks like the head is dropping, that’s if we assume the leaf and/or my shooting angle was roughly level, which they were not; the frog is actually facing upslope on the dangling leaf, and I’m shooting downward a bit to get the face shot again. Yet the impression we get alters the entire mood of the image, doesn’t it?
By the way, there’s also a green treefrog (Hyla cinerea,) much older than these, that visits the porch immediately adjacent to these plants from time to time at night, attracted by the bugs that are attracted by the lights. It means we tend to watch our step carefully when going in and out. I certainly appreciate having photo subjects so convenient, but like the mantises, it makes me paranoid just walking around the yard.