It may look like someone took some Spray Foam to your tree branch, but in all reality, you’ve found yourself the proud foster parent to an egg case full of baby Praying Mantis!
The adult female Praying Mantis lays her egg case on tree branches before the frost comes and she dies. As Christmas Trees provide valuable cover and protection for her young, this is often a common tree choice for the female. She deposits the eggs on the branch, which become surrounded by a liquid called “ootheca.” This liquid then hardens into the case. This small, brownish case may contain roughly 200 babies inside of it!
The babies then develop and wait for the warmer weather of spring to come to hatch – but wait! You’ve now brought them inside your warm and toasty house! With this shift in temperature, the babies can hatch in the middle of winter; right inside your house if you’re not careful! What a wonderful Christmas present.
While these fascinating insects may be a beneficial predator in your house, as he babies are hunters from birth, you may not be ready for house the masses of Praying Mantis that emerge! Don’t worry though – once you’ve found the egg case on a tree branch, simply cut the branch off of the tree and place it outside in a safe place, off of the ground where they are more vulnerable to predation. Simply place the branch and egg case on another protective branch of a large tree and use wire to secure it in place. The babies will hatch when natural, warmer weather comes and be highly valuable predators in your yard and garden ecosystem!
If you want to avoid dealing with these critters to begin with, the best idea is to inspect the tree before purchase. It is easiest to see animal evidence if you look at the tree from the cut end up. Remove any egg cases that you find and place it in another tree before you take your tree home!
For more information about how to handle various pests that can hitchhike home with you on your Christmas tree, click on these links!