T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Weta (Giant) Cook Strait (Deinacrida rugosa)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Family: Anostostomatidae
Genus: Deinacrida
Species: D. rugosa
Binomial name: Deinacrida rugosa
Common name: Cook Strait giant weta, Stephens Island Weta

Deinacrida rugosa is endemic to New Zealand and is found only on the islands of the Trio group, Stephens Island, Maud Island, Somes Island and Mana Islands. Its habitat is open grassland, shrubland and forest margins. In 2007, this species was reintroduced to mainland New Zealand, where it had been extinct for over 100 years, and is now found in Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary in the North Island.
Deinacrida rugosa is one of the largest insects in the world, reaching up to 7 centimetres long. It has a heavily armoured, with the upper surface covered by a series of thickened, overlapping plates, which have black markings. The female is significantly larger than the male, and both sexes lack wings.
They are nocturnal and are vegetarians. During the day they hide in leaf litter on the forest floor and at night they emerge to feed on leaves and small fleshy fruits. They are the only insect in the world lnown to disperse seeds.

Photographed at Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellington.