Life On Earth
Wetapunga - The World's Largest Insect
Insects tends to disgust a lot of people, but the picture above is much cuter than one would expect.
The Wetapunga is very similar to a cricket or a grasshopper in appearance, except it's obviously much bigger. It is native to the smaller islands of New Zealand, where its population is quickly becoming endangered by rats and other mammals. Its is also officially the largest and heaviest insect in on the planet, weighting in at 70g in its adult form (heavier than a sparrow), even though some Goliath Beetles have weighed in heavier during the larval stage. Despite the size and being classified as part of the Deinacrida genus (Greek for Terrible Grasshoper), the weta's cute eyes reflect its harmlessness.
The Wetapunga is a type of weta commonly found at the Little Barrier Island in New Zealand, which is where this lovely critter gets its name from. It's a fine example of island gigantism, a biological phenomenon that makes animals isolated on an island larger in size. Island gigantism usually occurs when a species has no threat from predators or competition from other herbivores, allowing them to eat more and not have to hide.
Written by: Denis Ivanov
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