Giant wetas are species of weta in the genus Deinacrida of the family Anostostomatidae. Giant wetas are endemic to New Zealand.
There are 11 species of giant weta, most of which are significantly larger than other weta, despite already being large by insect standards. They are heavy insects with a body length of up to 10 cm (4 in) not inclusive of its lengthy legs and antennae, and weigh more than 71 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. Giant weta tend to be less social and more passive than other weta. Their genus name, Deinacrida, is Greek for terrible grasshopper. They are found primarily on New Zealand offshore islands, having been almost exterminated on the mainland islands by introduced mammalian pests.
Not all Giant Weta are giant. They are ‘Giant Weta’ by species but not necessarily by size. For example, the Nelson Alpine Weta weighs around 7 grams on average, and the Kaikoura Weta can weigh up to 15 grams. The smaller species of Giant Weta have an advantage over the bigger Giant Weta because they find it easier to hide from predators.
Giant Weta facts:
The Little Barrier Island Weta, or ‘Wetapunga’ as it was known to the Maori, is one of the largest and heaviest insects in the world,
The largest weta recorded was a female and it weighed around THREE TIMES heavier than a mouse! (71 grams),
The Maori named the Little Barrier Island Giant Weta, ‘Wetapunga’, which means ‘sacred guardian of insect children’,
The gentle giant of the insect world, the Giant weta prefers a vegetarian diet,
The Giant weta often lives under rocks and bush floor debris,
The Giant weta is so heavy that it cannot jump,
The weta is sometimes known as the dinosaur of the insect world,
The weta has changed very little in the past 100 MILLION YEARS!,
At around two years old the female will lay 100-300 eggs. The parents will die before the weta eggs hatch 3-5 months later.