People are being urged to check their Christmas trees for walnut-sized lumps on their branches. However, there is no cause for alarm as these lumps are an indication of a praying mantis egg sac. However, having the egg sac hatch inside could mean that the resultant praying mantis will starve without a food source.
According to the Sun, people who have bought real Chrismas trees are being advised to carefully check the branches for walnut-sized lumps, an indicator that a praying mantis has laid eggs on the tree and the affected branches will need to be removed.
This warning had been issued last year as well but has been re-issued again this year. The walnut-sized mass can contain up to 200 praying mantis babies and, if left unattended, could hatch inside people’s homes.
While the animal itself is of no threat to humans, there is the concern that these creatures could starve to death inside your house since there will be no available food source for the tiny creatures.
However, finding a praying mantis egg sac need not mean you have to get rid of your entire Christmas tree. As Daniel Reed suggested on his Facebook account last year, all you need to do is cut off the offending branch and take it outside. There the egg sac will hatch safely in a natural environment where the babies will be able to source their own food.
“If you happen to see a walnut-sized/shaped egg mass, on your Christmas tree, don’t fret, clip the branch and put it in your garden,” Daniel advised in the original post on the matter.
“These are 100-200 praying mantis eggs. We had two egg masses on our tree this year. Don’t bring them inside they will hatch and starve!”
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry also warned against a multitude of creepy crawlies that may be present in Christmas trees.
“Every Christmas tree can harbor insects, mites, or spiders. Some of these may remain on the tree into winter and could become active after being exposed to the warm temperatures inside the home.”
They also insisted that any branch with a praying mantis egg sac should be removed.
“These eggs will begin to hatch after being indoors for several weeks. When this happens, numerous tiny mantids swarm over the tree seeking food. Since they are cannibalistic they will eat each other if no other food is available.”
Once outside, when the egg sac hatches, there will be plenty of aphids, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, caterpillars, and other soft-bodied insects for the babies to find and devour, rather than each other.
While praying mantises aren’t dangerous to people, one commenter on social media responded to the call to arms that her son had once had a spider’s egg sac hidden in his Christmas tree.
“My son had a spider nest in his,” the woman said, according to the Sun.
“Christmas morning there were millions of tiny spiders all over the tree and house.”