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Your Christmas Tree Could Contain Hundreds of Praying Mantis Eggs, Officials Warn

Don’t panic! Just cut it off and take it outside…

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Christmas Tree Praying Mantis Eggs
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(TMU) — The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes a number of lovely past-times—from the inevitable contentious family dinner discussions to high-stress travel, Christmas spending sprees that break the bank, and… swarming praying mantis nymphs?

Officials in one Ohio county are warning that this could be the case after some Christmas trees were found with a mass that looks somewhat like a miniature pine cone, but is actually something far creepier, literally.

According to a recent Facebook post by officials from Erie County, people should be aware that if they see a mysterious walnut-sized mass on their Christmas tree, they shouldn’t brush it off as some organic tree growth but should instead immediately clip the branch and place it in the garden, because the mass is actually an egg sac holding numerous praying mantises.

In one photo shared to Facebook, officials estimate that the mass could hold anywhere from 100 to 200 of the praying mantis eggs. The post added:

“Don’t bring them inside. They will hatch and starve!”

PSA: If you happen to see a walnut sized/shaped egg mass, on your Christmas tree, don’t fret, clip the branch and put it…

Posted by Erie County, Ohio on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Sydney K. Brannoch, Ph.D, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington, Seattle, who wrote her doctoral thesis on the insect, told House Beautiful:

“Yes, praying mantises have been known to deposit egg cases (called ootheca/ oothecae) on various types of vegetation, including the trees that we love to decorate at Christmas time. While I have yet to have a Christmas tree with an ootheca on one of its branches, it is certainly a possibility.

Depending on the species of praying mantis, the ootheca could have approximately 100-200 eggs, which could certainly hatch earlier than expected after spending a month or so in someone’s warm home.” 

However, while the idea of hundreds of tiny insects creeping across your picture-perfect holiday idyll may sound horrifying, praying mantises can actually be helpful when it comes to containing common pests in the home like flies, moths, grasshoppers, and other insects. The praying mantis is also notorious for cannibalizing its own kind in certain conditions.

Brannoch explained that yes, the advice from Erie County officials is sound and one should indeed place the sac outdoors on a branch, shrub, or in one’s garden. She added:

“If you do have an emergence of praying mantis nymphs in your home due to an unseen ootheca, do not panic!

Gently sweep them up, using a broom and dustpan, into Tupperware before placing it into the freezer (to euthanize the mantis nymphs) or to transfer to a terrarium to feed and play with until the summer when you can release them back into the wild.”

For those who feel convinced now to purchase an artificial tree, we don’t blame you. However, one may take comfort from the fact that in some cultures, the “praying” predator’s appearance in the home is seen as a sign that angels are watching over you.

In which case, feel free to enjoy the holiday eggs!

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years

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Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.

Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.

The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.

Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.

It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.

“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”

Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.

Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.

“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.

“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”

Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.

“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.

Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.

“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”

In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.

Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.

A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.

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