The Giant Weta

The Giant Weta – The Heaviest Insect on Earth

In the small islands of New Zealand, world’s heaviest insect lives: The Giant weta. There are 70 types of species of weta in the genus Deinacrida of the family Anostostomatidae. Giant weta are endemic to New Zealand and are examples 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. A female giant weta filled with eggs can reach up to 70 grams or more!

The Giant Weta
The Giant Weta is the heaviest insect on Earth. One example reported in 2011 weighed 71 grams, and a 72 g specimen has been recorded.

There are eleven species of giant weta, most of which are larger than other weta, despite the latter already being large by insect standards. The largest species of giant weta is the Little Barrier Island giant weta. Large species can be up to 10 cm (4 in) not inclusive of legs and antennae, with body mass usually no more than 35 g. But rarely, a female giant weta filled with eggs can reach up to 70 grams or more: one captive female reached a mass of about 70 g (2.5 oz.), making it one of the heaviest documented insects in the world and heavier than a sparrow. The largest species of giant weta is the Little Barrier Island giant weta, also known as the wetapunga. One example reported in 2011 weighed 71 g, and a 72 g specimen has been recorded.

Little Barrier Island (Hauturu in Māori language), lies off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Located 80 kilometres (50 mi) to the north of Auckland, the island is separated from the mainland to the west by Jellicoe Channel, and from the larger Great Barrier Island to the east by Cradock Channel. It is an extinct andesitic volcanic cone, roughly circular in shape, about 6 km (3.7 mi) across, with an area of 28 km2.

Little Barrier Island
Little Barrier Island, New Zealand

The giant weta is usually less social and more passive than other weta species. Their genus name, Deinacrida, is Greek for “fierce grasshopper”.

The giant weta diet consists of plants (even carrot!), other small insects and fruit.

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