Do you have a Christmas tree in your home? You might want to check it.
Officials in Erie County, Ohio are warning of walnut-sized and shaped masses in trees.
Turns out, they could hold inside them 100 to 200 praying mantis eggs.
“Don’t bring them inside,” the county’s warning read. “They will hatch and starve.”
Officials advised anyone who finds them to “clip the branch and put it in your garden.”
The photo accompanying the post showed a large brown mass attached to the leaves of a Christmas tree.
So, how common is it?
According to the University of Illinois, “post-harvest pests are rare, occurring in 1 out of 100,000 cut trees.”
University of Illinois Extension educator Chris Enroth advises inspecting a tree before bringing it inside and removing “egg masses, including those of praying mantis, gypsy moth, and bagworms.”
“Chemical sprays should be avoided. Aerosol insect sprays are flammable and should NEVER be used on a Christmas tree,” he wrote.
According to Enroth, a female praying mantis often prefers Fraser fir Christmas trees for egg-laying, which is typically done in the fall.
“Once in your warm house, the baby praying mantis can hatch from its egg and will likely then starve. 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,” Enroth wrote.
The National Christmas Tree Association also advises "cleaning and shaking trees before setup."
"Although extremely rare, a number of different insects and spiders have been found in Christmas trees after setup," the association's website reads.