One of these:
(This photo taken from the internet* is slightly larger than what Aimee is bringing, but other than that it’s very similar. The species I’m seeing has a leaner body, but longer antennae compared to the body length.)
This won’t surprise New Zealanders very much. This website describes the situation well:
Wetas are fairly common and wander into New Zealand people’s houses.
If they don’t wander in by accident, the family cat will oblige.
This is the third time Aimee has walked through the cat door with a weta dangling from her mouth by the antennae.
To be quite clear, I’m not talking about the well-known giant weta, which is quite a bit bigger:
Aimee’s choice in insects is leaner, with antennae several times the length of it’s ~2cm body. The length of the antennae and comparatively lean body suggests to me that it’s a cave weta, which, naturally enough, live in caves, but also under houses. (Alternatively, it might be a tree weta but the body looks too light, so I’m sticking with a cave weta. As you can tell, I’m not an entomologist.)
As she can’t get into the basement of my house, I’m thinking she’s crawling under the neighbour’s cottage, which like many old cottages rests on piles.
She doesn’t present them to me, so much as walk into the living room, plop them on the floor, fix her attention on their long antennae waving around, then chase them around the room when they jump.**
I’ve rescued her latest victim and placed it in a plastic pottle. It’ll be heading back outside now I’m satisfied as to what it might be.
For those interested in helping these insects, DOC has instructions on how to construct a weta motel. There is a page about weta for children, too. The photo of the tree weta is particularly nice. (Despite what this page says about what species are commonly seen inside houses, I’m fairly sure I’m looking at a cave weta, not a tree weta.)
Giant weta, englarged to near human size, feature in Peter Jackson’s King Kong.
* This is a photo of the web, but it’s the same insect. My camera options are presently limited to a laptop’s camera, which isn’t too practical for photographing a live insect… The photos near the head of this page much more closely resemble Aimee’s choice in insects.
** Weta can jump quite long distances when provoked. (Giant weta don’t jump.)
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