Friday, April 20, 2012

Mahoenui Giant Wetas

While this is not directly connected to Mangaiti Restoration, I thought I would share with you some photos I took while I was on assignment to collect 100 Mahoenui Giant Wetas to be released into the southern enclosure of the Maungataurtari Ecological Island. These wetas are remarkable insects.
A summary of some facts that may be of interest:
· The Giant Weta can weigh as much as 25g and the body can measure up to 65mm.
· They have a three-year life cycle
· They do not sting or bite.
· They were first discovered in 1962
· Their only known natural location in New Zealand is a few hundred hectares of gorse in the King Country south east of Piopio.
· They have survived in the gorse because of the difficulty rats have in predating them in that environment.
· Their natural habitat is in the canopy of tawa trees.
· Only two of eight translocation attempts have been successful to date.
· This is the first attempt to release them into Maungataurtari.
In the photos the only reason we are wearing gloves is because of the gorse.
Photo 1. The gorse reserve
Photo 2. Female weta
Photo 3. Male weta
Photo 4. Wetas mating!

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