Bin your Christmas tree immediately if you spot brown walnut-sized clump

Your Christmas tree could be harbouring hundreds of bugs – as some festive fans have discovered to their horror.

People are being urged to look for brown, hard walnut-sized lumps, which look like pine cones, as they may in fact be a sac of 100-200 praying mantis eggs.

The lumps are usually found on the end of branches and your toasty living room is the prime environment for the critters to hatch.

Molly Kreuze, from Springfield, Virginia in the US, was stunned to find her Christmas tree had smuggled hundreds of bugs into her home.

She found them crawling up her walls, ceilings and even in her bathroom and bedroom.

“They’re fast. They jump,” she said.

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To catch the bugs, veterinarian Molly used a box and an envelope, as well as feeding them fruit flies before they were removed from her home.

“In my Googling, I discovered that people really like praying mantises,” she said.

“They are useful, they eat other bugs. People use them for organic gardening.”

Praying mantises can grow to be up to 6 inches long, according to  National Geographic . And the insects, typically brown or green, are well-camouflaged on trees and other plants.

Daniel Reed also previously issued the warning on social media about the bugs and his message has been doing the rounds once again this year.

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More than 180,000 Facebook users have shared the post, with thousands more commenting on it.

Daniel advised that if you find the lump on your tree, to simply cut off the branch and put it outside in the garden.

He wrote: "If you happen to see a walnut sized/shaped egg mass, on your Christmas tree, don’t fret, clip the branch and put it in your garden. These are 100-200 preying mantis eggs!

"We had two egg masses on our tree this year. Don’t bring them inside they will hatch and starve!"

One person commented: “Another reason I have a fake tree.”

A second said: “If I start seeing things crawling across the floor I will be gone until after Christmas.”

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A third wrote: “If only I knew this last year before they hatched and were all over my walls.”

The warning only applies to real Christmas trees and finding clumps are rare, especially in the UK.

However, a Norway Spruce, Scots Pine or Fraser Fir might have once been home to one of the bugs.

Research has also revealed that legions of lice, mites, moths and spiders can be lurking in Christmas trees too.

"[Bugs] hibernate for the winter and usually empty their bodies of fluids, produce a chilled liquid and become completely inactive," said Bjarte Jordal, associate professor of the University Museum of Bergen told the  IB Times  .

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"Upon feeling the heat and being awakened by the light, they believe that springtime has arrived and spring back to life.

"If you pound the tree on a white cloth before you throw it out after Christmas, you will discover quite a number of small bugs."

The study also found that most mites will remain on the trees and soon die owing to a lack of food available to them indoors.

A number of people have been sharing their horror stories.

One wrote on social media: “A couple years ago the egg case was really hidden because we check our trees well.

“After it was in the house for several weeks they sprang or hatched and yes a couple hundred.”

Another added: “My son had a spider nest in his.

“Christmas morning there were millions of tiny spiders all over the tree and house.”

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry has advised adelgids, aphids, bark beetles, mites, barklice, scale insects and spiders can all be hiding in Christmas trees.

The department said: “Every Christmas tree can harbor insects, mites, or spiders.

“Some of these may remain on the tree into winter and could become active after being exposed to the warm temperatures inside the home.”

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