Christmas trees, whether real or fake, are known to create a lot of unwanted debris. Dropped needles, excess glitter, and sporadic strands of tinsel are all part and parcel of the Christmas tree experience. However, one woman recently got more than she bargained for with her festive purchase when she unknowingly brought a praying mantis-infested tree into her home.
Molly Kreuze from Virginia was getting ready to say goodbye to her Christmas tree for another season when she received some unexpected visitors. Unbeknown to Kreuze, a brown egg sack was attached to one of the branches, and the insects decided to hatch at the eleventh hour, filling the home with hundreds of baby praying mantises.
Speaking with ABC7 News, Kreuze described how the bugs were “crawling on the walls, crawling on the ceilings. Just kind of moving.”
Luckily for the long-legged, big-eyed insects, Kreuze, a veterinarian by trade, decided to try and collect the invaders for keen gardeners and anyone else who might be interested in some new, rather unsightly, pets.
She told reporters, “In my Googling, I discovered people really like praying mantises.” She added, “They are useful. They eat other bugs. People use them for organic gardening.”
The animal enthusiast set about the difficult task of catching the creatures with a shoebox and an envelope. She then gathered them into a glass box for safe keeping. While waiting for the insects to be claimed by gardeners and enthusiasts, she fed them fruit flies and ensure they were kept alive and well.
“They are fast. They jump,” Kreuze explained. “I hope to find them a home. I don’t want them.”
This type of insect infestation is not as uncommon as some might think. Several social media posts show similar situations in other unsuspecting families, some of which featured an invasive Chinese species of praying mantis that kills all good and bad insects alike.
Praying mantises are an impressive insect. They are masters of disguise and can blend in well with leaves and foliage, as several families learned the hard way. While they are carnivorous and can eat prey up to three times their own size, the camouflaged creatures pose little threat to humans.
They are often used by gardeners to control other insects, although they can often be too effective in this role, as they eat beneficial species as well as pests. Some enthusiasts even keep them as pets, although they tend to only live for around one year.
Popular as these little critters may be, Kreuze is still not a convert and has told reporters that she will be buying a fake tree from now on.