Our most common and feistiest wētā in the sanctuary

Name: Tree wētā

Scientific name: Hemideina

NZ Status: Endemic

Conservation Status (NZTCS): -

Found: Throughout mainland and off shore islands

Threats: Predation and habitat destruction

Did you know? Once hatched from their eggs, the tiny tree wētā may shed their exoskeleton 10 times before they reach adulthood over the course of 1 - 2 years.

Tree wētā
Photo Credit: Janice McKenna

The most common of New Zealand wētā found in gardens or bushes are the tree wētā Hemideina of the family Anostostomatidae. There are a total of seven species spread out over New Zealand, with the Wellington tree wētā Hemideina crassidens  being present in ZEALANDIA.

Much like other wētā, tree wētās are nocturnal and feed on leaves and fruit at night. They tend to hide during the day in holes made by other insects. The tree wētā grow around 4-6 centimetres long and are seldom found alone, preferring to hang with groups. Males have larger heads and jaws than females, and will often fight for female mates throughout the night. Unlike many other wētā species, tree wētā may inflict a painful bite if handled because of their enlarged jaws made for fighting. Many tree wētā can be heard at night much like cicadas in summer because of how they communicate through stridulation – pegs on their hind legs are scraped over comb-like ridges on the side of their body. 


Look for them: The best way to find wētā at ZEALANDIA are in the wooden wētā 'hotels' designed by Dr. George Gibbs along the tracks. But make sure not to open them for too long or the wētā won't want to visit them next time!