Sunday, December 11, 2011

Meet the Giant Weta

As a total diversion from Virginia wildlife I wanted to share with you info and photos of the Giant Wetapunga from New Zealand (which was in the news of late).

The Giant Weta is the heaviest insect on the planet
My husband Tony was born and raised in New Zealand and whenever our girls screech and run due to seeing a little spider he reminds them of his childhood insects, these giant locusts wearing armour and tells them of the incident where one ran up his pant leg as a child!

I can only imagine waking up in the middle of the night to a giant wetapunga on my bed! I think I woulda wetta my bed!

The Giant Weta can grow up to 10cm long and its leg span can reach 20cm.

An American tourist has claimed he's found the world's biggest insect during a two-day hunt on Auckland's Little Barrier Island - but the experts aren't buying his tall tale.
Mark Moffett, a former park ranger from Colorado, found the Little Barrier giant weta up a tree and snapped it nibbling a carrot.
Moffett's photos have been published on Britain's Daily Mail and Sun news websites where he claims to have found the largest ever specimen.
"The giant weta is the largest insect in the world, and this is the biggest one ever found, she weighs the equivalent to three mice," he told the Daily Mail.
"She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away.
"She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn't want to risk indigestion."  
Read the entire story here with photo of Mark feeding it a carrot!
Learn more about the Giant Weta (Deinacrida Heteracantha) here and here.
International media are calling it the biggest weta ever found, but New Zealand experts are urging them to get a sense of perspective. Kiwi's say this is not the largest Weta they have seen, not by a long chalk!

Since becoming a Master Naturalist I have really decided that insects interest me, and in fact I would like to learn more! During our basic training last Spring we had a wonderful session on Entomology by Dr Tom McAvoy from Virginia Tech and I have to say the entire class was intrigued! Who knew?

If you are interested in becoming a Citizen Scientist Volunteer the next BRFAL Chapter Basic Training for Aspiring Virginia Master Naturalists is coming up in March at The Franklin Center in Downtown Rocky Mount VA! You can get the Draft Schedule of Classes and View the Itinerary here, and get the Information Letter and Application here.  If you have any questions about this upcoming basic training please send an email to: 

Learn more about the Virginia Master Naturalist Program here. We hope to see you at the next training!

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