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Largest insect in the world found only in New Zealand

New Zealand’s giant weta is the heaviest insect in the world. A nature lover Mark Moffett came across the largest Weta ever found weighing the equivalent to 3 mice, which has a wing span of seven inches after two days of searching on a tiny island. The cricket-like creature crawly is only found on Little Barrier Island in New Zealand although there are 70 other types of smaller weta found throughout the country.

It is reported on Daily Mail that after Mark found the female weta he fed it the carrot before putting it back where he found her as he didn’t want to risk indigestion. 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. The giants of the species were wiped off the mainland by rats and accidently introduced by Europeans.  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.

Weta have become icons for invertebrate conservation in New Zealand because many species are threatened or endangered. There are more than 70 species of weta in New Zealand, 16 of which are at risk.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is currently involved in several weta translocation programmes, including one with the Mercury Island tusked weta, which is being bred by Landcare Research Ltd under contract to DOC. The idea is to produce enough individuals to start a new population on another island. Where there are already enough individuals to transfer directly, as in the case of the Mahurangi Island translocation this is done.