A Facebook picture that has been shared almost 57,000 times claims to show a praying mantis egg case attached to a Christmas tree branch and is warning people to check their trees..
The pic was posted by a Daniel Reed from Philadelphia a week and a half ago.
Real or fake?
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has an expert on the pray mantis, Dr. Gavin J Svenson who is the Assistant Director of Science Curator and Head of Invertebrate Zoology.
Svenson confirms the pic is that of an egg case, which could contain well more than 100 eggs.
“The shared picture is definitely a praying mantis egg case, also called an ootheca,” Svenson said. “The praying mantises in the northern United States survive the winter as eggs in these protected cases. The warmth of spring spurs their development and hatching.”
Could they hatch in your house?
You tree, and the egg case, is now in your home getting warm and that could be a problem.
“The warmth would accelerate the time it takes for the egg case to hatch. They typically need a number of weeks of warmth to develop and hatch,” Svenson said.
Although he can’t say exactly how long, the egg case would need to be inside for a while before they hatch.
“Yes, it is possible. It takes a few weeks. So if people have their tree inside into January, maybe. Most would not hatch in the short time the tree is inside.” Svenson said.
What should you do?
Accord to Dr. Svenson you should clip the branch off and take it outside immediately. If the egg case has been inside for a period of time already, it could hurt the eggs.
“Putting the egg case outside quickly is critical if you want them to survive normally to hatch in the spring,” Svenson said. “Going from cold to warm and then back to cold can cause problems and reduce their chances of survival.”
If you do find one an egg case and take it outside you should not just set it on the ground.
“The egg cases are susceptible to rot from too much moisture, so placing on the ground or on a surface will not work out for them. Affixing the case to an elevated branch works best. Many insects in northern climates have adapted to deal with the winter and they can handle the cold just fine,” Svenson said.
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