Officials in Erie County, Ohio, asking people to check for walnut-sized and shaped masses in the trees.
Christmas Trees in Erie County, Ohio have been hiding more than just the joy of the season! Officials have issued a warning, asking people to be extra careful while purchasing Christmas trees for the holiday season. Authorities are urging residents to check for walnut-sized and shaped masses in the trees they may have already purchased, according to NBC Chicago. These accumulations might be homing nearly 100 to 200 praying mantis eggs and if they enter your house, they could risk starving and dying.
"Don't bring them inside," read the county’s warning. "They will hatch and starve." The officials also instructed people on what to do if they happen to spot such masses. "Clip the branch and put it in your garden," they directed.
As per the University of Illinois, "post-harvest pests are rare, occurring in 1 out of 100,000 cut trees." Chris Enroth, Horticulture Educator at the University of Illinois Extension, recommends inspecting the trees before bringing them inside and removing "egg masses, including those of praying mantis, gypsy moth, and bagworms."
However, he warns of the usage of chemicals. "Chemical sprays should be avoided. Aerosol insect sprays are flammable and should NEVER be used on a Christmas tree," he wrote, noting the fact that Fraser fir Christmas trees are often the preferred spot for the female to lay its eggs.
"Once in your warm house, the baby praying mantis can hatch from its egg and will likely then starve," he continued. "Scout for mantis eggs before bringing the tree indoors. If you find one, cut off the branch it is attached to and place it in an evergreen outside," he added.
The National Christmas Tree Association, aimed to protect and advocate for the farm-grown Christmas tree industry, also advises "cleaning and shaking trees before setup." Furthermore, it notes, "Although extremely rare, a number of different insects and spiders have been found in Christmas trees after setup," the association's website reads."
Although the praying mantis is not a threat to humans, it certainly doesn't give us a free pass to hurt it. They are part of Ohio's local ecology, according to a report by 19News, and thus need to be protected. "Since they have been in the region for nearly 100 years, they are a part of the local ecology now," said Cleveland Museum of Natural History's assistant director of science Gavin Svenson.