It's tough to beat the amazing smell a fresh-cut Christmas tree brings to your living room, but is that smell worth the risk of this chaos happening in your living room? 

Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash
Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash

Live Christmas trees are absolutely beautiful, but they can bring some unwanted visitors into your home. In 2019, a Georgia family was shocked to find a tiny owl had been living in their tree for over a week before one of their children found it. Last year, a family in South Africa was stunned to find a venomous snake slithering its way through their tree.

Stories like those are rare, but every Christmas there are stories of unwanted visitors who hitched a ride into your house inside of one of these brown lumps.

It's not some oddly shaped pine cone. It's a praying mantis egg case! By bringing it into your home, you've just given them the perfect opportunity to hatch long before they're supposed to in the spring! According to Country Living, the egg case is meant to protect eggs from cold winter temperatures until conditions are right (and warmer) for baby praying mantises to thrive.  If one hitched a ride into your home on a live Christmas tree, the cozy temperatures in your home might cause them to hatch your house. Tiny praying mantises EVERYWHERE!

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So how many potential baby praying mantises could come crawling out of your tree? It kind of depends on where your tree was grown and what type of praying mantis laid their eggs in your tree. According to an issue of "Wildlife Express!" put together by Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho's native praying mantis is pretty small and their egg case also called an ootheca, typically holds 10-20 eggs.

That said, many of the fresh-cut trees sold in Boise come to us from Oregon and Washington where other species like California, Chinese and European are common. Some of those can lay up to 400 eggs!

So what should you do if you find one of these walnut-looking lumps in your tree? Gently snip it out and take it outside. That gives these creepy, but helpful insects the best chance of survival come spring. If you have a garden, set it there. Many gardeners actually buy praying mantis egg sacs to hatch in their gardens because they'll feed on pests that could hurt your plants. They're a great alternative to the chemicals in pesticides.

The brand that Zamzows has shared on their Facebook page in the past retails for $12 online and you just got one for free!

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