Christmas trees — home to ornaments, tiny angel figurines, and for one Ohio family, a ton of praying mantises.
Though the holiday season may be in full swing, Ohioan Andrea Coward will most certainly not be celebrating with a fresh-from-the-farm pine tree, a choice stemming from a skin-crawling incident in which her family’s real Christmas exploded with hundreds of tiny bugs thanks to a nest hidden within its branches.
“Beware of the real trees,” she captioned her now-viral TikTok depicting countless mantises making themselves right at home in the middle of her living room.
@andeekitty Beware of the real trees. #realtree #christmastree #prayingmantis #prayingmantisoftiktok #christmastreefail #faketreenextyear ♬ It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year - Andy Williams
Though Coward — better known by her TikTok username, @andeekitty — told Newsweek that she first noticed a nest hidden among the branches of her Christmas tree moments after bringing it into her home, her decision to “cut branch off and put it outside” quickly proved futile.
“About two and a half weeks later we saw all of the babies from the second nest we hadn't seen,” she recalled of the “few hundred” bugs infesting her home. "My husband started using the vacuum on them. They were scattering all over the floor."
Upon the sight of this small horde of praying mantises, several commenters on Coward’s TikTok began questioning their own traditions, wondering if the risk of inviting an army of mantises outweighs the inviting scent of a fresh tree.
“These comments really making me question getting a real tree this year,” wrote Raymond Dennis.
Meanwhile, several others, including @tarabeara, put Coward’s predicament into perspective.
“I mean, it could have been spiders,” they wrote, one of the many commenters broaching the concept of arachnids as an equally comforting and horrifying consolation.
But whether spiders or mantises, one thing is certain about tree-dwelling critters — they just wanna get in on the holiday spirit.