Thursday, March 2, 2017
Weta (plural weta) is the common name for a group of about 70 insect species in the families Anostostomatidae and Rhaphidophoridae, endemic to New Zealand. The word is from the Māori language, where singular and plural have the same form.
Many weta are large by insect standards and some species are among the largest and heaviest in the world. A captive giant weta (Deinacrida heteracantha) filled with eggs reached a record 70 g, making it one of the heaviest documented insects in the world and heavier than a sparrow.
Their physical appearance is like a long-horned grasshopper, or cricket, but the hind legs are enlarged and usually very spiny. Because they can cope with variations in temperature, weta are found in a variety of environments, including alpine, forests, grasslands, caves, shrub lands and urban gardens. Most weta are predators or omnivores preying on other invertebrates, but the tree and giant weta eat mostly lichens, leaves, flowers, seed-heads, and fruit.
This is however not a lesson on entomology, but a beret post. I found that an old beret, covering the stump of a hollow cabbage-tree in our garden, makes a perfect environment to breed weta!