Not a creature was stirring — except for the praying mantis.
A resurfaced video from 2018 showing a home infested by praying mantises that snuck in nestled in the tree is once again sparking fears of how an insect infestation could turn into a tree-mendous nightmare before Christmas.
Praying mantises hiding out in branches is actually very common, according to bug experts, explaining that females can lay their eggs on any surface — including your holiday evergreen conifer.
“The females will lay their eggs on any kind of plant. It’s not like they’re seeking out pine trees to lay their eggs on,” Case Western Reserve biology professor Mark Willis told Fox 8. “It’s a very rare occurrence, but, sometimes it happens.”
Willis explained that the warmth of a home can cause the eggs, which resemble lumps or crusty pine cones, to hatch and result in an infestation with creepy-crawlers all over the home.
“Eggs will begin to think it’s spring because it’s warm in the house. So, they’ll hatch and come out,” said expert Neal Denton.
Denton said that the insects “seem to like” how lovely are thy branches on popular holiday trees.
“They have dense foliage on Christmas trees,” he said. “So, it’s a good place for them to lay their eggs, because then predators will have a tougher time catching them.”
Praying mantis eggs are smaller than a match and can hold 100 to 200 bugs, experts told NBC Chicago.
So, you better watch out: Pest control professionals warn that Christmas tree buyers shouldn’t fir-get to check their trees thoroughly for eggs before bringing them home to avoid the not-so-sentimental feeling of having unwelcome guests.
Plus, as many as 25,000 bugs — like bark beetles, mites, scale insects and spiders — can live in one tree, pest control company Safer Brand said.
As for other insects, the insect control pros said it’s best to leave a newly chopped tree in the garage for a few days and then shake it thoroughly outside to set free any vermin.
But, what happens if you notice a sac of praying mantises? One expert says that the key is to remain calm and not panic.
“If you do have an emergence of praying mantis nymphs in your home due to an unseen ootheca, do not panic,” Sydney K. Brannoch, Ph.D of the University of Washington who wrote a thesis on the creatures, told House Beautiful magazine.
“Gently sweep them up, using a broom and dustpan, into Tupperware before placing it into the freezer (to euthanize the mantis nymphs) or to transfer to a terrarium to feed and play with until the summer when you can release them back into the wild.”
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