A Virginia woman said she received a shocking gift over the holidays: more than 100 praying mantises had hatched in her home after the insects were brought in on her Christmas tree.
Molly Kreuze, of Springfield, told WJLA-TV that the creatures — with their bent legs and bulgy eyes — were “crawling on the walls, crawling on the ceiling. Just kind of moving.”
She said the insects emerged from a brown egg-shaped case that was located underneath the tree’s branches.
Kreuze isn’t the first to report finding the creatures on her tree. One Facebook user, who in 2017 posted a photo of a “walnut-sized/shaped egg mass,” wrote that his tree had two eggs on it that year — with an estimated 100 to 200 praying mantises inside each — and warned to take them outside before they hatch, otherwise they’d starve.
If the egg sacs are not removed, they likely will start to hatch “after being indoors for several weeks,” the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry wrote online. “When this happens, numerous tiny mantids swarm over the tree seeking food.”
These cannibalistic creatures will begin to eat one another if they can’t find another food source, according to the bureau, which urged those who purchase real Christmas trees to look for the “light tan, walnut-sized, frothy egg masses on the tree before it is taken indoors.”
While she’s overwhelmed with praying mantises, Kreuze, a veterinarian, said she’s trying to find new homes for them, since it seems “people really like” the bugs.
“I hope to find them a home, I don’t want them,” she told WJLA-TV, adding she plans to buy a fake Christmas tree next year.