The New Zealand Weta is an endangered insect

What a find!

I wanted to use some wooden boards the other day (which were stored under some trees). I had used these boards before and found a weta in them on that previous occasion, so I was ‘cautious’ (mainly because I am scared of creepy-crawly things!!). To my astonishment I found an entire population ….11 in total!!

The Maori call the weta wetapunga [translated this means “a God of ugly things”], and the word weta is only a New Zealand word.

The giant weta is a flightless grasshopper and its species name Deinacrida, literally means Demon Grasshopper. It is one of New Zealand’s few protected insects. Giant wetas can grow over 50mm long and weigh as much as 25grams.

The ones shown below are NOT the GIANT weta, but ones typically found in the common NZ garden environment.

weta

some of the 11 weta I found weta hanging onto the wood FEMALE weta (see ovipositor)

Although it looks fearsome, they are actually quite docile…but they can give you a very hard bite from clamping jaws! I wore gloves when I plucked them off the wood, but the female dug her jaws in strongly. I replaced the wetas back into the area where they had come from so they could find another piece of board to reside in. If you see a weta while you are traveling around New Zealand, please respect and care for this insect. If it is on a pathway and likely to get trampled upon, just pick up a stick and flick the weta into a safer region. (They can also jump, so use a long stick!!). Their diet is largely vegetarian, and they lead a solitary, nocturnal life, spending the day hidden inside hollow logs or under large rocks.

weta Here, you can see a weta’s ears…(the white ovals, located on the front legs).

LATEST GIANT WETA FIND MAKES WORLD NEWS…

But read what the NZ Herald says about this find!!!

and here’s another blog about this story (recommended)

Here’s a video as we hunt for the NZ tree/bush weta!



And…take a look at Janet Andrew’s stunning artworks (there’s one of a weta!) http://www.southlight.co.nz/WildThings/ These artworks are available for sale ($3,250 for an original framed painting, $100 for A3 prints). Half the proceeds of the painting sales will be donated to the New Zealand Forest & Bird Society. Contact Janet on +6421 164 2655, or Janet@southlight.co.nz

Peter Jackson, the film Director of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘King Kong’, calls his company ‘WETA productions’. During the filming of King Kong, he magnified a weta and used it in a scene where a giant insect attacks some people. It was very impressive as it gave you a close-up view of this awesome insect.

On a recent vacation in New Zealand, we visited an Art Exhibition in Kohukohu, Hokianga, Northland. Here was a most impressive wood carving by artist Allan Gale. We knew we just HAD to have a piece of his artwork, and now we are the proud new owners of “Wetapunga”

Wetapunga NZ  Wetapunga   close-up of Wetapunga carving Allan Gale