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Our new insect overlord would like a carrot
December 1, 2011 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Former park ranger Mark W Moffett (aka Doctor Bugs) has found a Giant Weta on Little Barrier Island in New Zealand that might be the world's heaviest insect. It weighs three times more than a mouse. Oh yeah, it also eats carrots.
posted by Slack-a-gogo (75 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now I just need to find a saddle for it on Etsy and my plan is set.
posted by Nattie at 1:38 PM on December 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


I forgot to credit BoringPostcard's original MeCha post that has alerted me to this and haunted me all day. Also, Dr Bugs has been discussed here before.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2011


I thought it I would be grossed out, but it's actually pretty cute. Big ole' grasshopper. I do have the advantage of being several thousand miles away from the fucker, though.
posted by griphus at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


Good lord. That's a seriously large insect.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:43 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was looking for a good counterpoint to all the reasons why I wanted to visit New Zealand. Now I have one.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:43 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


When my brother was a toddler he found a weta in his gumboots (aka Wellingtons). The hard way.
posted by Paragon at 1:43 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


They are so big that little kids could hunt them with BB guns.
posted by lstanley at 1:45 PM on December 1, 2011


Related. New Zealand's giant insects were wiped out by rats, cats and other invasive predators not native to NZ, with a few giant insects left on some islands. Some believe it is best to let them go extinct. Others think it better to clear the islands of rats.
posted by stbalbach at 1:46 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on the nature documentaries I've seen, everything in Australia is a monster intent on killing you as painfully as possible and everything in New Zealand is a wisecracking animal sidekick. NZ must have an amazing PR department.
posted by theodolite at 1:47 PM on December 1, 2011 [20 favorites]


Finally, a New Zealand animal which can't be made into sweaters!
posted by ChuraChura at 1:48 PM on December 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Call me a quisling if you will, but I, for one, welcome our new insectoid overlords...
posted by Runes at 1:48 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


JIMINY CRICKETS that's a big bug.
posted by argonauta at 1:48 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Weta" as in "my pants" if that thing ever landed on me.
posted by hal9k at 1:48 PM on December 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


If anyone needs me, I'll just be over here, screaming.
posted by Nedroid at 1:49 PM on December 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I used to bullseye those in my T-16.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:49 PM on December 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


"Oh shit!"

-hal_c_on in auckland (60 miles from great barrier island)
posted by hal_c_on at 1:51 PM on December 1, 2011


I'm thinking of farming these things for entomophagical purposes.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"OH GOD DAMN IT. THEY ARE GETTING CLOSER!"

-hal_c_on in auckland (who just realized that its LITTLE BARRIER ISLAND...only 50 mi away)
posted by hal_c_on at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have been staring at this post for 20 minutes and still cannot force myself to click any of these links.
posted by elizardbits at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Former park ranger?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm with Griphus, why is it that people aren't normally freaked out by grasshoppers? There seems to be a lot of cartoon grasshoppers, are then endearing because of the cartoons or did people make cartoon grasshoppers because they are endearing?
posted by Ad hominem at 1:53 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


They are so big they could hunt little kids with BB guns.

I wonder if I can convince my wife to let me keep one of these as a pet. I presume they're hypoallergenic?
posted by JaredSeth at 1:53 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia: 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.
posted by ovvl at 1:55 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The woman on the wikipedia page is freaking me out more than the insect. She looks like she found out a secret about me and is silently judging me. Maybe she knows I never donate to WikiPedia.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:56 PM on December 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


They are so big that little kids could hunt them with BB guns.

this is also a perfect time to teach them how to use VATS
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2011 [19 favorites]


I think it's the eyes. They look sort of googly.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2011


Newsreel announcer: Young people from all over the globe are joining up to fight against the weta scourge.
Soldier #1: I'm doing my part.
Soldier #2: I'm doing my part.
Soldier #3: I'm doing my part.
Young kid dressed as a soldier: I'm doing my part too.
[Soldiers laugh]
Newsreel announcer: They're doing their part. Are you? Join the Mobile Infantry and save the world. Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?
posted by crapmatic at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2011 [29 favorites]


I'm with Griphus, why is it that people aren't normally freaked out by grasshoppers? There seems to be a lot of cartoon grasshoppers, are then endearing because of the cartoons or did people make cartoon grasshoppers because they are endearing?

Totally serious response: I think it's because grasshoppers have relatively small mandibles, so we don't get the "GIANT HOOKS FOR A MOUTH" effect, and their eyes seem, I think, more 'proportionate' to their bodies, from a mammalian perspective. In other words, their faces are a lot less freaky, at least from a distance, than a lot of insects.

Also, they hop around, rather than crrrrawwwling in the way that, at its extreme end, makes centipedes and millipedes so disturbing to so many of us. Boing! Boing!
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I bet that scary grasshopper would be great at king fu.
posted by w0mbat at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


> The woman on the wikipedia page is freaking me out

I know, she's been giving me the evil eye all day long as well. But, she's better than that programmer dude who was popping up on the bottom of Wikipedia articles a few days ago. He's flattening his biceps with his arms to look bigger.

posted by Burhanistan at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2011


Kung fu. Bloody autocorrect sabotaging my already bad joke.
posted by w0mbat at 1:59 PM on December 1, 2011


I thought it I would be grossed out, but it's actually pretty cute. Big ole' grasshopper

Guys. Seriously, stop this. This is actually a crisis. We have to destroy the weta for umm...ecological reasons. If you don't understand that, then you're part of the problem. I wonder if OWS is down the destruction of this too?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:59 PM on December 1, 2011


Um, no.
posted by ericb at 2:01 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in York
posted by Jofus at 2:01 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure these are the things that pop out in the mines when you play Jagged Alliance 2 in sci-fi mode.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:02 PM on December 1, 2011


E D F! E D F!
posted by burnmp3s at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2011


It's a big insect, but it's not much amongst arthropods in general.
posted by CaseyB at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2011


There are certain things in this world that my grasshopper-phobic wife doesn't need to know about. This is one of them.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:04 PM on December 1, 2011


71 grams ? The larvae of these can weigh up to 100 grams.
posted by Pendragon at 2:08 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that, CaseyB. I don't mind wetas at all - they're kind cute. And crabs in general don't bother me in the slightest. But there is something about the specific proportions of coconut crabs that I find particularly nightmarish. Although that didn't stop me eating one in Vanuatu once. It tasted like victory.
posted by Soulfather at 2:10 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a year there will be a children's cartoon with a lovable, carrot eating weta. The weta might not be the featured character, maybe just a wise-acre friend, but it seems inevitable.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:10 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well into the Ugly/Cute range. Especially chomping on a carrot.
posted by djrock3k at 2:10 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh fuck that! Any insect that needs something bigger than my shoe to kill it is too damned big. That thing looks like it could wrestle any weapon from your hand and turn it against you.

I did really well in New Zealand, and even managed to be the big brave hero right up til the point that our trip to see the cave wetas stopped with 6ft5 of me stood in a 5ft cave, with dozens of the sods on the roof.

If I'd seen that bastard, I'd have traded both my kidneys for the next flight out and taken the gamble that the human body can survive 36 hours kidney-free.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 2:12 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The woman on the wikipedia page is freaking me out more than the insect. She looks like she found out a secret about me and is silently judging me. Maybe she knows I never donate to WikiPedia.

ಠ_ಠ
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:13 PM on December 1, 2011


See also.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:14 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also also.
posted by saladin at 2:29 PM on December 1, 2011


Once, my sister managed to get a weta stuck to her tights, she was alone in my aunty's house at night and I can't imagine how funny and scary it must have been to try and get the little sucker off. Their legs are really sticky, kind of like velco.
posted by Enki at 2:32 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wish we got to take a vote on insect species. Because a bug this size that doesn't sting, hiss, spit venom or release a noxious cloud of foul green smoke is alright in my book, and a lot more preferable to rats. Whose idea was that? "Hm, looks like I got an ant problem in the den. Guess I'll go by some giant greasy centipedes to make short work of those!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:34 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Once, my sister managed to get a weta stuck to her tights,....."

This is the start of a great story....
posted by tomswift at 2:36 PM on December 1, 2011


My reaction was "AWWWW CUUUUUUUTE!" I think a steady diet of Bugs Bunny cartoons in childhood has predisposed me to love anything that gnaws on carrots.

For example.
posted by zoetrope at 2:40 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also think grasshoppers fare well because (extrapolating based on a very small sample size) I think most people (at least in the USA) think of katydids when they hear "grasshopper," which I mean how could something that shade of green be anything other than cute and innocent. It's like a tiny plant with legs.
posted by invitapriore at 3:26 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm ok with grasshoppers because they don't scuttle. And aren't spiders.

It's sad that so little of the New Zealand fauna remains.
posted by fshgrl at 3:32 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]




this makes sense now.
posted by smidgen at 3:55 PM on December 1, 2011


Does it weigh three times as much as a mouse before or after eating a carrot? I'd think a carrot is at least as heavy as a mouse so it would make a pretty big difference.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:10 PM on December 1, 2011


Also, classic Daily Mail bullshit. Weta don't have wings, which you can even see from the picture. Rats were introduced by the arriving Maori centuries before the first European explorers. Haven't read super-closely, but very likely almost everything in that article is wrong.

New Zealand does exist though.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:12 PM on December 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think it is just insects with recognizable heads and faces are cute.

Grasshoppers, katydids, ants. Even that jumping spider from bthe post before was kinda cute.

Boils down to all the special sotware we have to recognize facial expressions. We are freaked out by things without faces.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:43 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I misread the post as "weighs three times as much as a moose." I am partially relieved, and partially disappointed.
posted by ScotchRox at 5:00 PM on December 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh dear, flashback to high school and seeing a grasshopper come climbing out of my bathroom sink drain as I was washing my face. With my mouth open. **Shudder***.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:40 PM on December 1, 2011


I'd like to think I'd adore this creature in the wild. I'm not afraid of bees or wasps, and I like pretty lacy wild flies and so forth. I enjoy the company of all kinds of spooky creatures. But I can't deal with insects that have long antennae that are . . . always . . . waving. And you know this guy has a pair of those.

Because a bug this size that doesn't sting, hiss, spit venom or release a noxious cloud of foul green smoke . . .

"ZORAK! Take your glands outside!"
posted by Countess Elena at 5:42 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Carrots? Really? You guys fell for that?

Listen, if you're a freaking armored, clawed, brown monster the size of a Red Bull can, you're going to do anything you can to make people think you're "cute."

There's probably a swarm of them somewhere using their hive-mind to photoshop themselves into kitten pictures. While another hive-mind tries to stand on each other's shoulders to fill out a trenchcoat.

Then we'll see what they really eat.
posted by PlusDistance at 5:50 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


a bug this size that doesn't sting, hiss, spit venom or release a noxious cloud of foul green smoke is alright in my book

The weta's close relative, the Parktown Prawn, releases a stream of black excrement when scared and jumps aggressively towards perceived threats. A friend of mine from South Africa was describing how he was trapped in a hotel room once by one, and I was all...you were trapped by a cricket? until I googled it. Bleagh. The weta does seem like the nice one in the family.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:56 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Benson just looked at that bug eating a carrot, laughed, and said, "That bug could also eat a hot dog."

I have nothing further to add.
posted by elmer benson at 7:32 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had a hard time eating a few small chapulines (aka - fried crickets) when I was in Oaxaca. I don't think there's enough lime and chili powder to make this one work.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:29 PM on December 1, 2011


The woman on the wikipedia page is freaking me out more than the insect. She looks like she found out a secret about me and is silently judging me. Maybe she knows I never donate to WikiPedia.

I had a seriously strange moment late last night, when I looked up Keith Richards' Wikipedia page, and she appeared, right over his name.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:52 PM on December 1, 2011


Grass-hoppers are less threatening because humans eat them. I have, to me they tasted like dried shrimp. Grasshoppers and crickets are cute because they don't attack,.. Now locusts, also edible are that weird combination of threatening and edible.
The weta just looks like a grass-hopper on steroids to me. The size even adds to the ugly/cute factor.
They have eyes you feel you could look into.
I'm generally unphased by insects and spiders, although I can't stand ear-wigs, roaches, or bed-bugs, lice fleas or silver-fish.
Scorpions make me nervous for obvious reasons....
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:13 PM on December 1, 2011


Off Topic: That wikipedia woman inspires me to close my checkbook, forever (not that I have a checkbook, living in the 21st century First World). That face shouts: "I'm right, everyone else is wrong!". It is the face of edit wars.
posted by Goofyy at 1:07 AM on December 2, 2011


On Topic: I usually like bugs. I'm the guy that holds up giant locusts for others to look more closely (and have the photo to prove it). But this bug looks ugly to me. I think it's the color and shape of the abdomen. It looks dirty. I really found it disturbing, and surprising.

My worst ever encounter with a crawling critter was finding a whip scorpion in my house, when I first moved to South Africa. I screamed! It was too close to my bare foot, and I didn't know what it was. It looked like a giant spider, with claws (whip scorpions don't have that lobster-look of normal scorpions. No stinging tail!). But then I got good photos and captured the thing, and released it outside once I learned what it was.
posted by Goofyy at 1:13 AM on December 2, 2011


Jofus: "Meanwhile, in York"

I live a mile or so from the guy who wants specimens of those. He can damn well come and get them himself if I see one, just he'll have to beat the downward motion of the shoe...
posted by hardcode at 3:48 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the title of wikipedia article's "[weta] underside with parasites" image had me flashing back to the Cloverfield hipsters fleeing the giant parasites in the subway tunnel. Yikes.
posted by aught at 6:24 AM on December 2, 2011


Jofus: "Meanwhile, in York"
York? YORK? I thought it said NEW YORK.

THIS IS NOT HOW THIS WORKS

This is an insect thread, the links are about things FAR AWAY with at least ONE large body of water between me and the horror.

I'll be in my bunk clean room.
posted by fullerine at 6:47 AM on December 2, 2011


Actual facts from a New Zealand science blog instead of that Daily Mail rubbish.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:52 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sigh. Daily Failed again. Thanks j's spleen.
posted by panaceanot at 4:30 AM on December 4, 2011


From i_am_joe's_spleen's link:

Where else would you end up with the kakapo, a giant flightless parrot in which the males attract mates with a near sub-sonic “boom” that is broadcast up to 5 kilometers from its origin.

We have those in Melbourne as well. They generally drive around in hotted up old cars. We call them 'hoons' here.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:47 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peter Jackson used CGI giant weta in the film King Kong.

He likes to drop NZ references into his international films.
posted by aychedee at 6:51 AM on December 6, 2011


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