Similar to a big, fat grasshopper, although without the leaping ability, the weta is a large insect in itself. The giant weta though is something else to behold – a giant bug that is pretty much the size of a sparrow.
How big can it get?
This New Zealand native has been known to reach a weight of 70 grams, which is about the same weight as three mice. As such, it is considered the largest and heaviest insect in the world. A recent specimen with a 7-inch wingspan was big enough to comfortably munch away at a carrot (see video).
What does it eat?
Most species of weta are omnivorous, enjoying both vegetation and invertebrates. Giant Weta tend to stick to fruit, leaves, lichen, and flowers, although the occasional dead insect doesn’t go amiss.
How dangerous is it?
Whilst it’s unlikely it would attack humans, the giant weta has an attitude that you wouldn’t want to mess with. This goliath insect has what it takes to battle giant spiders, and win.
How many are left?
Unfortunately, the introduction of rats into Australia and New Zealand led to population numbers plummeting. Today three species of giant weta (Poor Knight’s Weta, Wetapunga, and Stephens Island Weta) are all considered vulnerable.
Not only is it the biggest insect, it is also one of the oldest. Weta have been documented as far back as prehistoric times, and as such has been deemed the ‘Dinosaur of the Insect World’.