With so many invasive species making their homes in local backyards, it's easy to have an itchy trigger finger when coming across egg sacs in New York. There's at least one, however, that needs all the protection it can get.

This year was especially challenging for New Yorkers and their battle against invasive pests. While the spotted lanternfly has long been a headache in the northeast, this spring also saw a boom in spongy moth caterpillars, the insect that not only causes severe damage to local trees, but makes it rain poop from the sky. Luckily, there's another animal that can come to the rescue.

Photo of eggs of the spotted lanternfly on a rock
Eggs of the spotted lanternfly (above) should be destroyed on sight (NYS DEC)

Finding Egg Sacs in New York State

There's no denying that there's something inherently odd (or even alien)  about finding an egg sac in your local garden, especially when it's hard to know what insect is getting ready to hatch. While egg sacs of the spotted lanternfly (above) should be destroyed on sight, a different egg sac should be left alone.

Photos of two praying mantises
Praying mantises are a helpful insect in New York gardens (RobertKovacs/robeo via Canva)

Praying Mantises in New York State

While the praying mantis is not native to the United States (they were introduced in the 1800s), the insect has proven to be helpful instead of harmful, and can assist gardeners with eating bothersome pests. They even have been photographed eating the dreaded spotted lanternfly... and their egg sacs look much different as well.

Photo of a praying mantis egg sac
Praying mantis egg sacs are described as looking like "shredded wheat cereal" (kj2011 via Canva)

Identifying Praying Mantis Egg Sacs in New York

Praying mantis egg sacs are described as "straw-colored" that "look like a piece of shredded wheat breakfast cereal about the size of a child's thumb" (above), according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). The eggs are laid before winter, and are hatching right about... now (below).

Praying Mantis Nymphs in New York

These nymph praying mantises will undergo several major changes before adulthood, including a color change and wing growth. It wouldn't be possible to have these garden friends, however, if their egg sacs are destroyed. Next spring it can be helpful to remember: any "shredded wheat cereal" found on plants or tree branches should be protected to ensure the next generation of this fascinating creature.

5 of New York's Most Devastating Invasive Species

Here are 5 species that have invaded New York State and in some cases they must be killed. We are talking about fish that walk on land, plants that cause severe burns and insects that could wipe out a variety of crops that we rely on.

Keep an eye out for these species and you hike, work around the yard or do some fishing this year. Should you locate any of these it is important to report where and when you found them to the New York State DEC.

Gallery Credit: Karolyi

Watch Out For These 5 Dangerous Invasive Pests In New York State

Gallery Credit: Yasmin Young