Having noticed two large bright green American bullfrogs sitting motionless on some rocky soil east of Kankakee this past week I stopped, reversed and pulled over for a photo. It soon became quite clear why these two frogs sat exposed and away from the safety of their nearby duckweed covered watery habitat when two black swallowtail butterflies came fluttering in.
The unsuspecting swallowtails, in their wandering flight, glided much too low and close to the patient amphibians, and then in the flash of an eye with an explosive lunge, one of the bullfrogs caught and quickly devoured one of the butterflies.
I spent the next hour and a half watching these two ambush hunters, and I can say with absolute certainty that these frogs missed more prey than they caught. The frogs were quite skilled at remaining still for long periods of time as they waited for the next opportunity. However, when a dragonfly, a butterfly or even a fly caught their attention but landed somewhat out of range, the frogs would give themselves away with their sudden movement as they turned toward the prey or tried to move closer. If the insects came within range, the frogs mostly won.
The American bullfrog has long been celebrated in both dark and whimsical literature, even Mark Twain had his celebrated jumping frog. These large green croaking frogs have inspired poetry, songs, stories and myths that have been shared by the indigenous in their traditions and oral histories and are well recognized in American folklore.
The bullfrog has a strong, unworldly song that can grab the attention of even the most heedless. They can jump quick and far, they are absolutely voracious hunters and to the bullfrog, all is game if it can fit it in its mouth. I know for a fact that there are no night sounds that can make the lonely nighttime fisherman feel less alone than those wonderful guttural songs of the bullfrog from the the dark water edges of ponds, lakes and rivers of Illinois. The American bullfrog is the largest frog in America and most widely known in Illinois and is native to eastern North America.