NEW ORLEANS – George Bevan just wanted to add a little holiday cheer to his office, but he ended up with a praying mantis infestation courtesy of his Christmas tree.
Bevan set up the tiny tree, which stood about three feet tall, on a counter in his office at the Audubon Nature Institute, where he works as an EMT.
On December 26, Bevan was in his office when he started to notice small insects crawling around.
“I was heating up some food and noticed several of these critters crawling around on our call log sheet,” Bevan said. “I asked my supervisor to come take a look at it and that’s when we realized hundreds were crawling all over the tree and the walls.”
Praying mantises are known to lay eggs in a variety of trees, some of which are commonly used for Christmas trees.
Under the right conditions, praying mantis babies will hatch and emerge from their egg sacs just in time for the holidays.
“I had no idea that this was a thing since I’ve always had an artificial tree in my house,” Bevan said.
Fortunately for the little critters, Bevan works for the Audubon Nature Institute, so he knew exactly who to call to safely remove the infestation without having to resort to insecticide.
“After calling around to figure out the best way to remove them, we were able to get some animal staff employees to come and help,” he said.
Two Audubon Zoo employees who work in the Louisiana Swamp exhibit soon arrived and painstakingly began collecting the bugs in jars.
“There were unfortunately a handful that did not make it, but most of the mantises were relocated,” Bevans said.
The baby praying mantises were sent to the Audubon Insectarium, a happy ending to one of the most unlikely stories to come out of this Christmas season.