Woodpile wetas walk on wild side
Following a successful winter last year gathering unwanted weta from Kaikoura’s woodpiles, Ailsa Howard is rolling her sleeves up and preparing to be bitten once again.
While many of us think weta are creepy, large, unsightly and, let’s face it, rather scary, Ailsa said she just loves them.
So much so that she set up the weta rescue service last year, collecting up the giant insects from woodpiles and releasing them into the bush where they live to see another day.
Commonly found in woodpiles, there are two species known to inhabit the Kaikoura region, the giant weta and the smaller tree weta, with a distinctive striped back.
Weta are only found in New Zealand and the Kaikoura species have not been extensively studied.
This is part of what fascinates Ailsa so much and she hopes one day to be able to study them in more detail.
The giant insects are threatened by predation by rodents, and by habitat loss, and she hopes to give them a fighting chance by releasing them into a particular area in the Waimangara bush.
‘‘I just love them and I want to help them. I would really love to do some proper research, to look at what they eat, what they are predated by. It would be really fascinating.’’
Ailsa is opening up her weta collection service again so if you have any weta in your woodpile or around your property and would like to dispose of them in a caring and responsible manner, give her a call.
While they are quite scary to some, they do play an important part in the ecosystem, she said, so she would like to see as many as possible reunited with native bush.
If weta of any size are seen, they can be captured and put in a jar or container with air holes. Also ensure that they don’t dry out.
New acquaintance: Ailsa Howard greets her new friend, one of many weta she hopes to rescue and release into native bush.