Kiwis encouraged to get a weta

02:42, May 08 2014
CREEPY: Brave volunteers are being asked to get up close to wetas.

Massey University entomologists are calling for volunteers to capture specimens and photos of New Zealand's creepiest of crawlies – the weta.

The university's Ecology Group has launched the "Weta Geta" website on how to identify New Zealand's orthoptera, such as grasshoppers, crickets and especially weta.

The public are being invited to send in photos of weta to help Massey researchers classify new and existing species and catalogue their whereabouts.

Associate professor in evolutionary ecology Steve Trewick said the team was looking for photos of peculiar-looking weta.

"In the past we've had people send in some pretty grisly packages, so we're advising people to send us a photo first and kill the insect by putting it in a jar and freezing it," he said.

"We'll look at the photo and send out the appropriate packaging for the insect to be posted to us."

New Zealand is home to 70 known species of weta.

There are five broad types.

The tree, ground, giant and tusked weta belonged to one family, and the cave weta belonged to a separate family, Trewick said.

He said many cave weta were small and rarely seen.


Fairfax Media