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.

Spiney

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.

22 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Chris D says:

    This amuses me greatly :)

  2. Zach says:

    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!

      • Zach says:

        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…

  3. Lauren says:

    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!

  4. Nelly says:

    That was pretty cool. Fancy him staying with you all that time!

  5. Elise says:

    I remember my first Hawaiian centipede….

  6. Sarah C says:

    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.

    • Zach says:

      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.

  7. Cee says:

    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!

  8. Apparently, a weta wanted a ride… it probably wanted to go on a trip. Right? ;)

  9. Natalie says:

    Smiled the whole way through. Miss Weta, did you get a good textile education?

    Very best,

    natalie

  10. Natalie says:

    Awesome! What a charming tale.

  11. jackiead says:

    What do you think Ms. Felicity would do with the weta if she could?

    • 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!

  12. Rowenna says:

    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?

  13. Stella says:

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

  14. 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!

  15. Kathy P in Pittsburgh says:

    Weta-way scarier than Shelob.

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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