If you don't want your home infested with bugs this holiday season, then make sure your Christmas tree doesn't have this tiny thing hidden among its branches.

Inspect Your Christmas Tree

Every year, people don't thoroughly inspect their Christmas tree and accidentally invite in some very confused guests.

New Yorkers should look through every branch before hanging up their ornaments or stringing up the lights to make sure they don't see any wayward "pine cones."

Many people tend to mistake praying mantis eggs with pine cones because they appear to be similar in shape and color.

But, if you don't remove it from your tree and take it outside, it can turn into this.

Trokantor from Getty Images Signature
Trokantor from Getty Images Signature

Each egg sac can contain hundreds of praying mantis nymphs, who will then skitter around your home in search of food.

If that doesn't sound like a good time, residents should know what to look out for before decorating their tree.

A praying mantis egg sac is light brown in color, about an inch-and-a-half wide and has an outwardly appearance that looks like foam insulation.

Praying mantis lay their egg sacs ahead of the colder months and tend to deposit them on vegetation so they blend in and stay safe all winter long.

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The egg sacs are insulated, so the babies inside can survive the brutally cold winter months. The nymphs then hatch in the late spring once the weather remains at a consistently warm temperature.

But, if they're removed from a cold environment and into the balmy temperatures inside one's home, the babies may get confused and think it's springtime, so they'll hatch and begin their lifecycle.

Why You Shouldn't Panic

While no one enjoys the idea of having small bugs crawling over their house, just know two things: cases of praying mantis eggs hitchhiking their way inside a home is rare and, secondly, praying mantises are great for your garden.

Omega Mission Hills World Cup - Day Four
Ian Walton/Getty Images

While stories from people claiming they found these sacs in their trees emerge every year, Snopes has ruled that the likelihood of you finding one on your tree is a 1 in 100,000 chance.

But, if you do come across a suspected egg sac, don't crush it and throw it away. The babies won't spring out of the case right away - it takes weeks for them to develop, so you have time to calmly grab some scissors or clippers and gloves.

Botanists say you should gently clip off the branch the sac was found on and relocate it to an area where it can continue blending in with its surroundings.

Then, when summer hits, your gardens will be protected by the best bodyguards nature can provide.

Praying mantises are considered one of the most beneficial insects because they are amazing at pest control. They capture and feast on a variety of insects known to damage crops, shrubs, flowers and other plants.

Additionally, many cultures view the praying mantis as a symbol of good luck.

What If an Egg Sac Hatches

I can tell you this has happened in my family. My mother found one of these egg sacs when she was younger and thought it'd be a cool thing to show her "classroom" for a science class. She estimates she was around 6 or 7, and her students were her toys.

She pinned it to her corkboard and left it there until hundreds of little praying mantis babies emerged.

What she recalls of the "traumatic" event is her mother screaming in horror, her father trying to keep the house under control, and maybe the rest of her family being totally grossed out. Meanwhile, my mom remembers looking around and even toward the ceiling in wonder of all the little bugs scurrying about, declaring loudly that "they hatched!"

It also appeared it took quite awhile for them to clear the infestation because of how small and easy-to-miss these nymphs were.

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However, you don't have to go through what my mom did. Instead, experts say you can gently sweep up the nymphs and humanely euthanize them by putting them in the freezer. The cold will effectively kill them.

But, if you want to keep them alive, transfer them to a terrarium and spend the winter feeding and playing with them until they can be safely released into the wild. Praying mantises are relatively easy to care for and make fun pets.

Playing Mantis
Wendell/Getty Images

Plus, if you capture other insects in your home, you have an automatic dispenser that will gladly take them off your hands. You can also spice it up by catching that moth/spider/fly alive and depositing it into the mantids' enclosure.

Click HERE to find out how you can keep these mantids alive during the winter.

In all, while it's unlikely your Christmas tree will contain a praying mantis egg sac, it's best to be educated on the matter than reliving the horrific experience my mom endured over 50 years ago.

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