Weekly Photo Challenge: Big

Weta är en benämning på ett antal arter av stora insekter som liknar gräshoppor eller vårtbitare. De är endemiska för – alltså finns bara på – Nya Zeeland. De är bland de största insekterna i världen, särskilt  jättewetan. De har en kroppslängd på 6-10 centimeter, mätt från huvudet till bakkroppsspetsen, och borträknat antenner och ben. Jättewetan är också bland de tyngsta insekterna och kan väga upp till 70 gram.

Ursprunget till namnet weta på dessa insekter är maoriernas ord för jättewetan, ”wetapunga”, som det förr fanns många av. Men, eftersom vi människor introducerade råttor och möss och andra för Nya Zeeland okända rovdjur, så hotas wetan nu av utrotning. Man försöker skydda den genom bevarandeprogram. Européerna kom att använda weta som vardagligt namn på alla dessa insekter. Det finns till exempel ”tree weta”, ”tusked weta”, ”ground weta” och ”cave weta”.

Wetan har anpassats till att leva i många olika områden. De är vanligen nattaktiva och gömmer sig under dagen i hålor, ruttnade och ihåliga trädstammar eller tät vegetation. De är ofta långsamma, speciellt de största arterna som sällan hoppar utan mest kryper fram. Födan består av vegetabilier, men kan också inkludera andra insekter.

This week I went to Norway for a couple of days. I was hoping for Totti to win a title there…but no. He ended up as number three… Despite that, I met some lovely people up there, and we had such a good time together. Now, this is why I´m a bit late entering my post for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Big.

If you look up facts about the Weta, will find that the name is given to about 70 insect species endemic to New Zealand.  The name comes from the Māori word wētā, and is the same in the plural (like ‘sheep’). The Māori word for the giant weta is wētā punga(lumpy or jointed weta).

Many weta are large by insect standards and some species are among the largest and heaviest in the world able to fly. Their physical appearance is like a bush-cricket, long-horned grasshopper, or cricket, but the hind legs are enlarged and usually very spiny. Many are wingless. Because they can cope with variations in temperature, weta are found in a variety of environments, including alpine, forests, grasslands, caves, shrub lands and urban gardens. They are nocturnal, and all New Zealand species are flightless. Different species have different diets. Most weta are predators or omnivores preying on other invertebrates, but the tree and giant weta eat mostly lichens, leaves, flowers, seed-heads and fruit.

Weta can bite with powerful mandibles. Tree weta bites are painful but not particularly common.

New Zealand had no land mammals (apart from native bats) before humans arrived. The weta’s place in the ecosystem is comparable to that held by mice and other rodents elsewhere in the world. For example, they are hunted by an owl, the morepork, New Zealand’s only surviving native owl. Weta also acts as effective seed dispersers.  Which, as they now are endangered, might have negative effects on native plant species that may rely on the weta’s help.

New Zealand visual effects houses Weta Workshop and Weta Digital were named after the insect. And Peter Jackson´s Welliwood is so closely connected to Weta Cave – this tiny shop and display of those fantastic things come alive from, for example the stories of the Ring (JRR Tolkien), Tintin and King Kong. Big things in the movie world.

So, my contribution is this really Big thing in film culture and this frightfully Big insect: The New Zealand weta.

Cave weta…
…on my daughter´s arm

Fascinating both of them – scary, but wonderful too. I´d love to go back to New Zealand one day. In fact, I could go right now!

7 comments on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Big

    • Well, I have developed a somewhat …feeling towards big insects over the years, so I constantly try to put myself in their way. I don´t want to be afraid of them, and by that diminish my life, so to speak.

Halva verket är läsarens - så, vad säger Du? As the second half is the reader's - I'd love to have Your line!

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