'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Amazing Giant Weta of New Zealand



The UK telegraph recently starred the astonishing New Zealand Giant weta (in Maori: wetapunga - 'God of ugly things') as its picture of the day.

The article (you can read it at the link above) is a little misleading however, as it gives the impression that an American entomologist discovered this insect:
'Adventurer' Mark Moffett has found the world's biggest insect...after two days of searching...on Little Barrier Island'.

In fact this island has long been known as one of the last outposts of the giant weta.

For me, the interesting thing is that wetapunga has been able to survive alongside the small polynesian rat kiore, which was brought to New Zealand when the Maori first came. Although kiore eats the nymphs, the adult weta are too large and also find safety in their tree-top habitats. However neither species has been able to hold out against the European rats of mainland New Zealand, and so share the Little Barrier, from which the European rats have been eradicated.

It should also be mentioned that carrots are not generally on the menu for wetapunga. Your veggie gardens are safe.

7 comments:

  1. Bloody hell! They don't tell you about those things in the NZ guidebooks!

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  2. You would be very, very lucky to see one of these, YP.

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  3. ***runs screaming from the blog***

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  4. Seeing a Giant Weta and photographing it would be such an amazing experience.

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  5. That is some big insect ( and looks kind of friendly?)!

    Anna :o]

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  6. Robert! Fear not! They are slow and gentle creatures!

    GB. Yes! An amazing experience. I love the smaller ones in the garden. So many people do not treasure these rare wonders.

    HyperC: I think so too! And this is a female, see her ovipositor? Some people think it is a sting.

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  7. I am not surprised that the Kiore hasn't wiped out these insectoid nightmares, they probably run in the other direction as fast as they can. I don't mind snakes and rats (other peoples nightmares) but insects and spiders tap into some deep hard wired irrational fear (probably some evolutionary self preservation adaptation) in a way that would have me look, but not handle one of these beasties. Having said all of that I do admire people (usually the artist) who sees beauty in all things - and there is a beauty to be beheld - if we can detach ourselves from our fears. I think insects were a great inspiration for the special effects artists on movies such as "Alien" - which is the scariest movie I have ever seen. You can look for insects Katherine, I shall view and smell the flowers!

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