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The name "weta" is an informal designation, referring to two families of New Zealand grasshopper, the Anostostomatidae and the Rhaphidophoridae.


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Phylum Arthropoda Siebold & Stannius 1895

1895 Arthropoda Siebold & Stannius 1895
1938 Lobopodia Snodgrass
1995 Panarthropoda Nielsen

Tactopoda Budd 2000

Subphylum Euarthropoda Cuenot 1949

Class Hexapoda

Order Orthoptera

Suborder Ensifera

Ensiferans are the "longhorned" orthopterans characterised by thread-like antennae which can reach to several times the body length.

The group is largely nocturnal and many taxa are long-lived with adult life spans of over a year. Females inject eggs into plant material or soil through a long ovipositor (Chopard 1938, Beier 1972, Kevan 1989, Rentz 1996). Several taxa that have a reduced or absent ovipositor show maternal care of eggs or nymphs (Gwynne 1995).

Ensiferans include most of the major groups of singing insects, taxa in which males stridulate to call mates. Stridulation involves rubbing together modified portions of the forewings in katydids (or bush-crickets (Tettigoniidae)) (Bailey and Rentz 1990), true crickets and their allies (Otte 1992, Desutter 1995) and Haglidae (Morris and Gwynne 1978) and a femur-abdominal mechanism in certain weta (Stenopelmatidae) (Field 1993).

The more than 9000 described species in the suborder show a broad range of habits and habitats. They are found worldwide in diverse habitats. Some species retreat to crevices and burrows (Kevan 1989), an ancestral habit (Gwynne 1995) whereas others avoid natural enemies with a remarkable mimicry of leaves and other plant parts.

Family Anostostomatidae

Syn. Stenopelmatidae

Genus Anisoura

Anisoura nicobarica Ander, 1938

Fig. 1: Anisoura nicobarica (formerly Hemiandrus monstrosus), the northland tusk weta, one of three tusk weta species found in northern North Island New Zealand. [Image courtesy Massey University of New Zealand (read more).]

Genus Deinacrida

Deinacrida connectens (Ander, 1939)
Deinacrida rugosa Buller, 1871
Deinacrida heteracantha White, 1842
Deinacrida carinata Salmon, 1950
Deinacrida tibiospina (Salmon, 1950)
Deinacrida fallai Salmon, 1950
Deinacrida pluvialis Gibbs, 1999
Deinacrida talpa Gibbs, 1999
Deinacrida elegans Gibbs, 1999
Deinacrida mahoenui Gibbs, 1999

Genus Hemiandrus

Hemiandrus pallitarsis (Walker, 1969)
Hemiandrus lanceolatus (Walker, 1869)
Hemiandrus bilobatus Ander, 1938
Hemiandrus focalis (Hutton, 1897)
Hemiandrus subantarcticus (Salmon, 1950)
Hemiandrus fiordensis (Salmon, 1950)
Hemiandrus 35+ undescribed species

Genus Hemideina

Hemideina crassidens (Blanchard, 1851)
Hemideina thoracica (White, 1842)
Hemideina maori (Pictet & Saussure, 1891)
Hemideina femorata Hutton, 1898
Hemideina ricta Hutton, 1898
Hemideina broughi (Buller, 1896)
Hemideina trewicki Morgan Richards, 1995

Genus Motuweta

Motuweta isolata Johns, 1997
Motuweta one undescribed species

Family Rhaphidophoridae Kirby 1883

Rhaphidophoridae includes the cave or jumping weta.

The cave weta need revising. All species are endemic to New Zealand and there are many awaiting description or perhaps even discovery (Johns, 1991, and subsequent observations). A long forgotten name (130 years!) can now be applied to a recently collected form. A number have needed slight changes in their names, as indicated below, to follow the ICZN rules of nomenclature concerning gender agreement.

Talitropsis has recently been placed in its own tribe (Gorochov, 1995) and is said to be primitive. But the entire family is in need of revision at the higher levels as one key character, the lack of stridulatory pegs on the abdomen similar to those present in the ground weta (Anostostomatidae), are present and often well developed in many New Zealand species. There is still much confusion at the generic level which Ward (1997) partly remedies. But it is the 10 or more new species in Isoplectron and Neonetus, which will pose a great problem with their merging variation in presently fixed generic characters. Talitropsis is already known to vary in "key" characters.

The Subantarctic Islands (Antipodes, Auckland, Bounty, Campbell and Snares) each have a monospecific genus (excepting Antipodes a species has been seen there but not caught!). These too may represent the ends of variation in one (esp. Pleioplectron) or more mainland New Zealand genera.

Genus Dendroplectron

Dendroplectron aucklandense Richards, 1964

Genus Gymnoplectron

Gymnoplectron acanthocerum (Milligan, 1926)
Gymnoplectron delli (Richards, 1954)
Gymnoplectron edwardsii (Scudder, 1869)
Gymnoplectron fuscum (Richards, 1959)
Gymnoplectron giganteum Richards, 1962
Gymnoplectron longicaudum (Richards, 1959)
Gymnoplectron longipes (Colenso, 1887)
Gymnoplectron ngongotahaense Richards, 1961
Gymnoplectron spinosum Richards, 1961
Gymnoplectron tuarti Richards, 1961
Gymnoplectron uncatum (Richards, 1959)
Gymnoplectron waipuense (Richards, 1960)
Gymnoplectron waitomoense (Richards, 1958)
Gymnoplectron 11+ undescribed species

Genus Insulanoplectron

Insulanoplectron spinosum Richards, 1970

Genus Ischyroplectron

Ischyroplectron isolatum Hutton, 1897

Genus Isoplectron

Isoplectron aciculatum Karny, 1937
Isoplectron armatum Hutton, 1897
Isoplectron calcaratum Hutton, 1897
Isoplectron cochleatum Karny, 1935
Isoplectron 3 undescribed species

Genus Macropathus

Macropathus filifer Walker, 1869
Macropathus huttoni Kirby, 1906

Genus Neonetus

Neonetus huttoni Chopard, 1923
Neonetus pilosus (Hutton, 1904)
Neonetus poduroides (Walker, 1869)
Neonetus variegatus Brunner, 1888
Neonetus 9 undescribed species

Genus Novoplectron

Novoplectron serratum Hutton, 1897
Notoplectron campbellense Richards, 1964

Genus Pharmacus

Pharmacus brewsterensis Richards, 1972
Pharmacus chapmanae Richards, 1972
Pharmacus dumbletoni Richards, 1972
Pharmacus montanus Pictet & Saussure, 1891
?Pharmacus 3 undescribed species

Genus Pallidoplectron

Pallidoplectron peniculosum Richards, 1960
Pallidoplectron subterraneum Richards, 1965
Pallidoplectron turneri Richards, 1958b

Genus Pleioplectron

Pleioplectron diversum Hutton, 1897
Pleioplectron hudsoni Hutton, 1897
Pleioplectron simplex Hutton, 1897
Pleioplectron 2 undescribed species

Genus Paraneonetus

Paraneonetus multispinus Salmon, 1948

Genus Petrotettix

Petrotettix cupolensis Richards, 1972
Petrotettix nigripes Richards, 1972
Petrotettix serratus Richards, 1972
Petrotettix spinosus Richards, 1972

Genus Setascutum

Setascutum ohauense Richards, 1972
Setascutum pallidum Richards, 1972

Genus Turbottoplectron

Turbottoplectron cavernae (Hutton, 1897)
Turbottoplectron unicolor Salmon, 1948

Genus Talitropsis

Talitropsis crassicruris Hutton, 1897
Talitropsis irregularis Hutton, 1897
Talitropsis sedilloti Bolivar, 1883
Talitropsis megatibia Trewick, 1999
Talitropsis new species (1)

Genus Weta

Weta thomsoni Chopard, 1923
?new genus for [Weta] chopardi Karny, 1937

See also the Forest and Bird page on wetas.



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