Wood­pile we­tas walk on wild side

Kaikoura Star - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA DANGER­FIELD For your free weta pick up ser­vice, call Ailsa on 319 6797.

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.

Photo: SUP­PLIED

New ac­quain­tance: Ailsa Howard greets her new friend, one of many weta she hopes to res­cue and re­lease into na­tive bush.

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