One Virginia family got a very unwelcome Christmas surprise --- hundreds of praying mantises.
As ABC 7 reported, Molly Kreuze found more than 100 of the insects crawling on her walls and ceiling after having been smuggled into the home in the Christmas tree. As the report noted, the tree was hiding a brown egg-case in its branches, with the insects hatching some time during the holiday season and invading the home.
The story garnered some national attention, with many sharing on social media and lamenting the family's invasion of hundreds of bugs.
The insects seem to have picked the right home, however. Kreuze is a veterinarian, so instead of squashing the insects or calling an exterminator, she decided to capture them so she can give them away to people looking for tiny pets. She has been feeding the insects a diet of fruit flies and keeping them while she finds a new home for all of them.
"In my googling, I discovered people really like praying mantises," she says.
"They are useful, they eat other bugs, people use them for organic gardening."Experts had warned Christmas tree shoppers before the holiday season to be on the lookout for the brown sacs holding the praying mantis eggs. As the Sun reported, people who purchased real Christmas trees were advised to look them over for walnut-sized lumps, which would indicate that a praying mantis had laid eggs. Any affected branches would have to be removed from the tree, experts warned.
Some people affected by the praying mantis eggs took to social media to share their own warnings, including Daniel Reed who took to Facebook to share a picture of an egg sack he found on his tree and gave some advice on how others can deal with it.
Reed advised taking the affected part of the tree outside, where the praying mantises could safely hatch."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," Reed wrote.
"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!"Though Molly Kreuze may have found a way to make the most of her praying mantis invasion, the Virginia woman said she won't take the risk of a repeat next Christmas. She plans to buy an artificial tree from now on.