Friday, December 02, 2011


New Zealand's giant weta is the heaviest insect in the world and this one is the largest ever recorded

By Jessica Satherley

Weighs as much as THREE times a mouse.

There are over 70 types of Weta species in New Zealand but the giant weta has been named the biggest insect in the world because of its weight.

A female giant weta filled with eggs can reach up to 70g or more and the largest of the species are found on Little Barrier Island.

They are usually less social and more passive than other weta.

Their diet consists of plants, other small insects and fruit.

Their size is an example of island gigantism, which is a biological phenomenon leading to a larger size than their mainland relatives because of their isolation and lack of large predators.

Big appetite: A former park ranger from America found the heaviest ever recorded giant weta on New Zealand's Little Barrier Island and fed her this carrot out of his hand

He came across the cricket-like creature, which has a wing span of seven inches, after two days of searching on a tiny island.

The creepy crawly is only found on Little Barrier Island, in New Zealand, although there are 70 other types of smaller weta found throughout the country.

The giants of the species were wiped off the mainland by rats accidentally introduced by Europeans.

After Mark found the female weta he fed it the carrot before putting it back where he found her.

Mark, 53, said: ‘Three of us walked the trails of this small island for two nights scanning the vegetation for a giant weta.

‘We spent many hours with no luck finding any at all, before we saw her up in a tree.

‘The giant weta is the largest insect in the world, and this is the biggest one ever found, she weighs the equivalent to three mice.

‘She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away.

‘She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn't want to risk indigestion.

‘After she had chewed a little I took this picture and we put her right back where we found her.’

Mark, from Colorado, America, added: ‘We bug lovers hear a lot of people who think insects are inferior in some way because of their size, so it was great to see such a big insect.

‘This became all the more amazing when we realised that this was the largest insect recorded.’

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