Tree Gives Birth to Praying Mantises, and I Have Questions

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Keeping the Christmas tree up well past New Year’s Day is not only common, but I’m all for it. An extra couple weeks of gorgeous greenery, sparkly lights, and ornaments that are basically a walk down memory lane? Yes please!

I am not, however, on board with trees that have secret presents wrapped up in their branches. Secret presents like, say, hundreds of baby praying mantises.

This was the exact gift that Molly Kreuze’s Christmas tree gave her this year. Snuggled somewhere in the branches of her tree was a hidden egg-case that was probably about the size of a walnut. It was from that walnut-sized egg-case that the hundreds of praying mantises burst out and began crawling up the walls and across the ceiling of the poor woman’s home. Literally. Crawling. Up the walls. Kreuze, who is a veterinarian in Virginia, is apparently a fantastic fit for her chosen career field because instead of setting her house on fire and starting all over, she rounded all the cute little suckers up.

Animal lovers will be happy to know that she is keeping the praying mantises safe and well-fed until someone volunteers to take the little buggers off her hands. They’re actually a popular choice among organic gardeners since they eat so many other bugs, making it easier to combat pests without harmful chemicals. So sure, you have to deal with a literal moving ceiling of insects, but they’ll eat all the other bugs that try and come into your house.

To review this slightly disturbing situation:

  • Woman puts up Christmas tree
  • Woman leaves Christmas tree up past Christmas
  • Tree gives birth to hundreds of insect babies
  • Woman maintains temporary custody until a better home opens up
  • No fire was involved

I have questions about this process, like “Was there crying involved?” and “Did you call 911?” Because if it had been me, I’m about 93 percent certain that I would have called 911 while hyperventilating and choking on my tears.

If you’re having a good chuckle right now and feeling thankful that this didn’t happen to you, don’t get ahead of yourself. Aphids, spiders, mites, and (you guessed it) praying mantises all love to hide out in Christmas trees. You may not even notice them at first because they only tend to vacate as the tree dries out. Which means if your tree is still up (no judgement here), then you might want to check your walls for an army of baby praying mantises.

And next year, your present to yourself may just be a fake tree.



Writer Bio: Caitlin Lane lives in Tucson with her husband and two kids. An active writer and lazy runner, she is currently studying Japanese and Creative Writing at the University of Arizona. When she isn’t busy typing on her laptop, she’s probably busy drinking too much coffee.

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