The giant wetas are the world’s heaviest insects. The heaviest ever recorded was a female that weighed 71g (2.5oz). That's three times the weight of an average house mouse. In fact, wetas are the insect equivalent of mice. They evolved in the small rodent niche because in New Zealand there were no mice to compete with and no nocturnal mammalian predators to hunt them.
Scientific name: Deinacrida
Giant weta are several species of weta in the genus Deinacrida of the family Anostostomatidae. Giant weta are endemic to New Zealand and are examples of island gigantism.
There are eleven species of giant weta, most of which are larger than other weta, despite the latter already being large by insect standards. Large species can be up to 10 cm (4 in) not inclusive of legs and antennae, with body mass usually no more than 35 g. One captive female reached a mass of about 70 g (2.5 oz.), making it one of the heaviest documented insects in the world and heavier than a sparrow. This is, however, unnatural, as this individual was unmated and retained an abnormal number of eggs. The largest species of giant weta is the Little Barrier Island giant weta, also known as the wetapunga. One example reported in 2011 weighed 71 g, and a 72 g specimen has been recorded.
Giant weta tend to be less social and more passive than other weta. Their genus name, Deinacrida, is Greek for "terrible grasshopper". They are found primarily on New Zealand offshore islands, having been almost exterminated on the mainland islands by introduced mammalian pests.
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