Reportedly one of, if not the heaviest known insects in the world, it’s the giant weta. These New Zealand natives have jaws strong enough to cut through carrots. There are 70 known species of weta. 11 species are in the giant category. They have been nearly wiped out on the main land of New Zealand, yet live precariously on the surrounding islands. The largest of the weta species is the Little Barrier Island giant weta, aka the wetapunga. Weta are generally listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Primarily due to introduced mammalian predators.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Deinacrida
Weight: Up to 2.5 ounces
Length: Up to 4 inches
Lifespan: Up to 9 months
Now on to the Facts!
1.) The name weta comes from the Maori word wetapunga, which translates to “god of ugly things”.
2.) Their genus name, deinacrida, actually means “terrible grasshopper”.
3.) Scree wetas have the ability to survive freezing during winter, only to thaw out in spring and continue doing their weta thing.
4.) Even though they look like grasshoppers on steroids, they actually can’t fly or jump. Some arboreal wetas can but not the giants.
5.) Thanks to cats and rats, they are pretty much extinct on New Zealand’s main island.
But wait, there’s more on the giant weta!
6.) Many conservation groups breed these beasts of the insect world and reintroduce them to increase their numbers.
7.) Just like other insects, large and small, they breathe through spiracles (tiny holes in their abdomen) and the oxygen is then delivered to their entire body.
Did you know…?
They may look fierce, but they are actually quite peaceful to humans. They aren’t venomous, don’t take to biting, and live peacefully among the trees and leaf litter eating plant matter. Tusked wetas are carnivorous; eating worms and other invertebrates.
8.) Just like crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts, they have ears on their knees. Well, just behind their knees, on their front legs. Which comes in handy when you really kneed to hear something.
9.) They have been around for about 190 million years!
10.) These critters are nocturnal (active at night).
Now a Short Giant Weta Video!
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