Mark Moffett, a nature-lover has revealed how he spent two days tracking down a giant insect, weta, on a remote New Zealand island – and got it to eat a carrot out of his hand.
Mark Moffett, 53, from Colorado, found that giant weta, genus Deinacrida of the family Anostostomatidae, is the world’s biggest insect in terms of weight. The insect weighs 71g and is heavier than a sparrow and three times that of a mouse.
The former park ranger discovered the giant weta up a tree and his real life Bug’s Bunny has now been declared the largest ever found.
Mark Moffett came across the cricket-like creature, which has a wing span of 7 inches, after two days of searching on a tiny island.
Giant weta is only found on Little Barrier Island, in New Zealand, although there are 70 other types of smaller weta found throughout the country.
The giants of the species were wiped off the mainland by rats accidentally introduced by Europeans.
After Mark Moffett found the female giant weta he fed it the carrot before putting it back where he found her.
He said: “Three of us walked the trails of this small island for two nights scanning the vegetation for a giant weta.
“We spent many hours with no luck finding any at all, before we saw her up in a tree.
“The giant weta is the largest insect in the world, and this is the biggest one ever found, she weighs the equivalent to three mice.
“She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away.
“She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn’t want to risk indigestion.
“After she had chewed a little I took this picture and we put her right back where we found her.”
“We bug lovers hear a lot of people who think insects are inferior in some way because of their size, so it was great to see such a big insect.
“This became all the more amazing when we realized that this was the largest insect recorded.”
Giant weta is usually less social and more passive than other weta.
The insect’s diet consists of plants, other small insects and fruit.
Giant weta’ size is an example of island gigantism, which is a biological phenomenon leading to a larger size than their mainland relatives because of their isolation and lack of large predators.