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The walnut-sized mass you may find on your real Christmas tree could contain hundreds of praying mantis eggs

The walnut-sized mass you may find on your real Christmas tree could contain hundreds of praying mantis eggs
Posted at 8:18 AM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 09:18:32-05

CLEVELAND — Hidden among the ornaments and garland draped carefully around the Christmas tree, there could be a walnut-sized shaped mass that resembles a miniature pine cone. According to the Erie County (Ohio) Facebook page, it's not a pine cone but a mass containing several hundred praying mantis eggs.

If you see one of these hanging on your Christmas tree, don't fret. Clip the branch and place the egg mass inside your garden.

In the fall, a female mantis lays up to 400 eggs in one egg mass, which becomes surrounded by a liquid that hardens and protects the eggs, according to an article published by Oregon State University.

The adult mantises die before winter, but the eggs survive the winter in the hardened egg-like case called an ootheca.

mantis mass

When spring comes around, baby mantids, called nymphs, hatch and look for food. If these masses are left inside, the eggs will hatch, and the mantises will starve.

According to Animal Planet, mantises feed primarily on other insects, so they're actually helpful in keeping other pests away from homes.

However, if a mantis ootheca isn't removed from a Christmas tree, you could find yourself overrun with bugs. In January, ABC News reports that hundreds of mantises hatched inside a Virginia home, leaving it full of bugs.

This story was originally published by Kaylyn Hlavaty on WEWS in Cleveland.