Preying Mantises hatch from Christmas Trees!!!

Christmas Tree
Last night we saw what we thought were nymph praying mantis all over our living room near the Christmas tree. We bought the live tree 3 weeks ago and have had it decorated in our living room since. We live in Harrisburg PA, and over the last 2 days the temperature has risen 10°. We decided to take the tree down today since we found at least a hundred more. We put them in a glass jar with holes in the lid. I’ve always been told they were good luck and beneficial. My question is now, what do I do with them? I don’t want to kill them and it is too cold to put them outside. My father has a horse on a farm and is willing to take them. I am sending a picture, too, although it isn’t too clear. Thanks, I’ll wait for your response.
Paula Werner

Hi Paula,
We have received about 10 similar letters, but yours is the only one with photos. Obviously, it is too cold to put them outside. You are correct that the indoor warmth caused them to hatch prematurely. If no other food source is provided, they will eat each other until only the most vigorous survive. A possible winter food source could be fruit flies, Drosophila, availabe in biological supply houses. They are used in biology classes and to teach genetics. Also, tropical fish breeders feed them to some fish. They are easy to raise.

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