Quick facts on the Giant Weta

It can outweigh a mouse. 

The giant weta is the world’s heaviest reported insect. It can weigh up to 70 grams, though many weta don’t reach quite that giant of proportions.

Its name means “god of ugly things.” 

The name weta comes from the Maori word wetapunga, or “god of ugly things”.

It loves carrots. 

In 2011, Smithsonian researcher Mark Moffett stumbled upon a particularly large giant weta on a trip to New Zealand’s Little Barrier Island. An image of Moffett feeding the huge insect a carrot went viral. A New Zealand insect expert later noted to the New Zealand Herald that feeding the insects carrots is quite common. 

It’s older than some dinosaurs. 

Fossils found from the Triassic period 190 million years ago show striking similarities to the weta that inhabit New Zealand today. 

It’s close to extinction thanks to rats.

The giant weta was considered extinct on mainland New Zealand by the 1960s, though they were once populous across the northern island. Giant weta are now considered limited to Little Barrier Island, about 50 miles northeast of Auckland and are now bred in captivity.