Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Giant weta

The giant weta native to the Little Barrier Island of New Zealand (Deinacrida heteracantha) proudly bears the name of the heaviest and largest adult insect in the world, the record weight for one being of 71 gram and more than 10 centimeters in length. These insects can be heavier than a sparrow. 

Before humans began settling on New Zealand islands, bats were the only warm–blooded mammals in the ecosystem. All species of wetas thrived in safety. Sometime between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago, native people from Polynesian islands (Maoris) first traveled to the New Zealand islands. They brought with them the kiore, or Polynesian rat. It quickly became a predator of wetas. When European settlers began arriving in the eighteenth century, they brought to the islands an enormous array of other animals. They cut down the forests for timber and to create farmland, and the whole shape of the New Zealand landscape changed. 

All weta species are protected today and their limited habitats have been designated as reserves. However, predators remain in these habitats. Although domestic cats that had been living in the wild on Little Barrier Island have been exterminated, the wetapunga is still threatened by the kiore.

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