Giant weta. Close-up view of the head of a Giant weta (Deinacrida heteracantha) on a tree branch. This species of weta, also known as the Wetapunga from the Maori language, is native to New Zealand. Adults can measure up to 10cm long without including the antenna and legs, and pregnant females can weigh over 70 grams, making them the heaviest insects in the world. Giant weta are flightless and have survived on New Zealand since prehistoric times due to the absence of land mammals. The introduction of rats, cats, stoats and other mammals onto New Zealand have reduced the Giant weta populations to Little Barrier Island. The Giant weta is too heavy to jump but when threatened, raise their spiny hind limbs into the air. These nocturnal insects feed on plants and fungi.
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