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Weta on a Wet Day

Last week it was raining, and I was hurrying off to give a lecture on textiles.  As I dodged raindrops down the sidewalk, heading for my car, I almost stepped on a peculiar New Zealand native, the weta.

My weta

What is a weta?  It’s kind of like an awesome, freaky, spiney, scary grasshopper.

Oh, and some of them are 4″ long, and that isn’t counting their legs or antennae.  With those they are almost a foot long.  And they can weigh as much as a sparrow.  And the males hiss and bite when threatened.


Luckily, the weta I found was a more common, garden variety female Wellington tree weta (I think – my weta identification skills are pretty rudimentary), but even the garden variety weta need protection, so I reached down to pick up the weta so it wouldn’t get squashed on the sidewalk.

Unfortunately for me, my weta decided it liked my leather gloves, and didn’t want to let go.

I'mma stay on these gloves, 'kay?

What was I going to do?  I had a weta on my glove that I couldn’t detach, and a lecture to get to!  So I took it along.

Yep.  My weta came for a drive in the car, and because it is cruel to leave animals in cars, even on cold days, it came in to the lecture.

Just chillin, listening to a lecture.

And it sat on my glove at the edge of the podium while I talked about issues of cultural appropriation in textile design for an hour.

I don’t think it cared.  The students were pretty amused though.

I'm a weta. Textiles don't interest me.

After the lecture, I drove home, got my camera, snapped a few pictures, and took a little time to admire what amazing, intriguing creatures they are.

Look at how fascinating and beautiful it is: the overlapping back segments, the stippled legs and red claws, the striped antennae.

And then I took the weta back out to a safe area near where I found it, and carefully moved each of its legs to the tree.

I hope it lives a long and happy weta life, with no more adventures.


  1. Good heavens–a foot long!?! I’d jump right out of my skin if one of them jumped on me!

    • Luckily those kind are pretty rare. And not inclined to jump from what I have heard. Even the small ones are a bit alarming if you suddenly happen upon them when gardening though!

      • I just googled them and was horrified. Those things are massive! Then I found a picture of a “megastick” insect. No sleep for me tonight…I’m going to be imagining them crawling all over me…

  2. I always wondered what the “Weta” part of “Weta Workshop,” the NZ studio that worked on Lord of the Rings, meant, and now I know. Creepy, scary, giant bug!

  3. What a great story! We have several praying mantis around our house and there is one in particular that I have made friends with. I fished her out of a bucket of water and put it in a safer place. The last few times I have been out there she was still there.

    • A few years ago I saved one from a window at my old high school and brought him home to live in a flowering vine-thing out front. Unfortunately, though, I never saw him again. I did name him though–he was Dracular, as my friend and I had watched Dracula a week or two beforehand and thought it fun to laugh at the way some characters said the name.

  4. OMG…those are creepy!! I’m terribly glad I did NOT run into one when I was in New Zealand…I had no idea such a creature existed there – It’s like a gigantic cricket!

    • Our neighbors have a beehive, so Ms Felicity has (thankfully!) learned to treat random bugs with great respect & caution! It’s pretty common for dogs to get weta stuck in their noses and lips, though cats seem to be a bit more savvy.

      • Stella says

        In my experience cats love to eat wetas, but very quickly learn to bite off the spiky back legs first. It’s good that Felicity hasn’t got a taste for them!

  5. How is your weta mildly adorable, while our cave crickets (or “sprickets”) are horrific, terrifying evil-looking bugs? Who like to jump at your face?

    • google.co.nzI don’t know! Maybe it’s because everything is better in New Zealand? Or because weta don’t jump at your face? Or because they look less like spiders?

      I think most bugs are mildly adorable though (and some are downright squee-worthy) – I think it comes from mainly living in places with harmless insects

  6. Stella says

    OMG that is seriously cool. I can’t believe it sat there through the whole lecture!

  7. Tamsyn says

    oh, god, i can’t stand the things! found one in my treehouse when i was younger and it scarred me for life!

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