Yes, praying mantis eggs could be in your NJ Christmas tree but there’s no need to panic
Recently, there's been other posts circulating out there regarding praying mantis egg masses from within live Christmas trees. Unfortunately, some of them are leading off with panic if you find yourself in this situation, which is very unfortunate.
In reality, there's no reason for panic at all if you happen to find their egg masses in your tree. In fact, it's actually a good sign that their eggs are being found in the first place.
But how likely is it to find praying mantis eggs inside your Christmas tree in the first place, and what harm is there if you do come across the eggs? Also, is there any harm to our environment as a result, and should you place those eggs far away from your home?
All great questions, so let's dive into it. But before we hit those questions, it's important to first know what these egg masses look like.
Praying mantisis eggs can blend into the tree thanks to their coloration and shape. When it comes to the trees we cut down for the holidays, the egg masses can resemble pine cones.
There are, however, some differences. For one, the texture of the egg masses would be smoother, making it much more noticeable when hanging among other pine cones.
And two, you'll most likely find them attached differently to the branches when compared to a pine cone. See the photo below to get a better idea of what to look for.
It's really the color and shape that makes it blend in more. And it's not just pine trees praying mantises lay their eggs on, it's only one of the many places you can find them.
But it's easy to see how they can be mistaken for a pine cone at quick glance. However, there's no harm to the trees and it's perfectly normal to find them around the great Garden State.
Now that we know what to look for, let's dive into that first question. How likely are you to find praying mantises eggs in your Christmas tree in the first place?
The answer to this question is highly unlikely. Most people in New Jersey either purchase their Christmas trees at a store or tree lot, where tree farmers take extra measures to prevent this from happening in the first place.
If you get a live tree for Christmas every year, take a moment to think about it. How often have you come across this situation? For most of you, the answer is probably never.
Even at Christmas tree farms where you chop down your own tree, it's unlikely for this to happen. Not only do tree farmers take extra measures to prevent it, but the odds are also slim of it happening even without that extra care.
But that's not to say it couldn't happen. If on the off chance it does, what should you do? Is there any harm as a result?
The answer to that is nothing that would cause you any harm. In fact, the harm would more likely occur with the baby praying mantis inside the mass itself.
If you do come across their egg mass, there is the possibility that the warmth from inside your home could cause them to hatch. But this wouldn't happen immediately, and more harm would probably happen to the baby praying mantises as they would probably die from starvation.
None of this would be good news for New Jersey since the praying mantis is native to our state. Not only that, but they also provide a vital service to us.
All you have to do is look at their diet and what they eat. Think about the summer season when mosquitoes are attacking and biting you. Who do you think eats those mosquitoes?
Yep, it's the praying mantis. They help keep the mosquito population in check, which means fewer mosquitoes biting us. But aside from that, the praying mantis also eats another problematic pest in the Garden State.
And it's one that doesn't even belong here in the first place. That's right, the praying mantis also eats those dreaded spotted lanternflies, the ones whose egg masses actually do harm our trees.
Spotted lanternflies have become a major agricultural problem in New Jersey, and their population has been spreading like wildfires. Thankfully, the praying mantis also consumes this invasive species, and thus also assists with helping control the lanternfly numbers.
Those are just some of the reasons why you shouldn't panic if you do find praying mantises egg masses in your Christmas tree. We don't want any harm happening to those eggs, and panic usually leads to just that.
This leaves us with our final question. If by the extreme off-chance we do find their egg masses in our Christmas trees, should we place them far away from our home?
The answer to that is not really. As long as the egg mass gets outside as quickly and safely as possible, there's no need to place it far from your house.
In fact, having them close to your home would probably benefit you more when the warmer weather arrives. They eat those insects that are harmful to us, as well as those harmful to the environment such as spotted lanternflies.
And this doesn't mean throwing their eggs as far away as possible, as that can also cause harm. Instead, gently clip off the branch the egg mass is attached to and place it outside somewhere in your yard. There are more benefits to having them around, so why not let them have a home nearby?
Again, the odds of your live Christmas containing these eggs are extremely unlikely in the first place. And by the off-chance you do come across them, please do not panic or freak out.
We need the praying mantis in New Jersey, and causing mass hysteria around them is not something we should be doing. Instead, consider yourself fortunate if you do find one of their masses. Just place it gently outside in a safe location and enjoy the benefits during the warmer weather.
Want to see more? Check out this video from Jeff Schaeffer Photography capturing the moment a praying mantis captures and devours a spotted lanternfly (the attack happens just after the 50-second mark).
All the more reasons why it's so important we make sure praying mantis eggs survive.