18th October 2022

Looking after the Little Guys

Tree Weta

Nerolie and Chris Cook have lived at Drift Bay for 22 years where, along with their neighbours, they have created a beautiful haven filled with native trees and birdlife.  Thanks to their trapping and planting efforts they see a plethora of birds including tui, piwakawaka, bellbirds, kereru and a pair of breeding Grebes.

Realising that weta were facing a range of threats, Nerolie and Chris purchased and installed three weta motels, and they now regularly see ground weta occupying their new shelters.  They have seen 5 in one motel – the occupants seem to come and go at their leisure.

A number of weta (and an earwig) in one of Chris and Nerolie’s motels

Quick Facts

  • The weta is only found in New Zealand and is so old it has outlived the dinosaurs.
  • Weta are large by insect standards. Some of the giant weta are enormous and are amongst the heaviest insects in the world 
  • The weta is sometimes called the dinosaur of the insect world 
  • The weta is more primitive than the tuatara. The weta has changed very little in the past 100 million years.
  • Weta have their ears on their front knees and can feel the vibrations of noises around them.
  • You can tell a male and female weta apart because females have a long ovipositor, which looks a bit like a stinger, which they use to lay eggs.

There are over 100 species of weta, many of which are endangered, so why not give them a hand.  They like a shady area, but even a small grouping of trees will do.

There are plenty of instructions on line for making your own weta motels – what a great project for the kids!!!  Have a look at DOC’s website that includes plans for both 3 and 5 star motels: https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/toyota-kiwi-guardians/take-action/build-a-weta-motel/

Or you can buy the motels from Friends of Hunua Ranges for a donation of at least $30.00, or simply make a donation to help them put more weta motels in their area.   Go to: http://www.friendsofhunuaranges.co.nz/weta_hotels.php

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