The New Zealand Weta is an endangered insect
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 weta 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.
Although it looks fearsome, they are actually quite docile…but they can give you a very hard bite from clamping jaws!
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.
Here’s another blog about the weta (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.