A former park ranger and American researcher traveling in New Zealand has stumbled across a Weta Bug, with a wing span of seven inches and weighing as much as three mice. The story around the world seems to be taking off that this is the world's largest insect.
"Three of us walked the trails of this small island for two nights scanning the vegetation for a giant weta," said Mark Moffett, 55. "We spent many hours with no luck finding any at all, before we saw her up in a tree. The giant Weta is the largest insect in the world, and this is the biggest one ever found."Moffett then clearly enjoyed the moment by holding the insect and feeding it a carrott
"She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away," Moffett said. "She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn't want to risk indigestion. After she had chewed a little I took this picture and we put her right back where we found her.
New Zealanders it seems are far less impressed by the find. New Zealand's well known insect expert and resident bug man, Ruud Kleinpaste, is a trustee of Little Barrier Island Supporters Trust, and has said "There's nothing unusual to find these weta," Kleinpaste said, though he thought the publicity for the species could be a good thing. "I think it's wonderful as long as weta get the attention and not that American."
Kleinpaste thought Moffett, a researcher at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, might be a "poser" as it was normal to feed weta carrots. And though giant weta were endangered, Little Barrier Island and Motuora Island were home to thousands and thousands of the creatures. They mostly lived in creek beds or trees, Kleinpaste said.
A giant weta breeding programme has been going for two years at Butterfly Creek in Auckland and they will introduce 25 to Tiritiri Matangi Island next weekend.
Kleinpaste said he saw wetapunga on Little Barrier Island every time he went there. "If you keep your eyes open you'll see them."
He said wetapunga were nice, non-aggressive creatures, but "if you really piss them off they will cut you in half".
Kleinpaste said wetapunga were the heaviest insect in the world.