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Original Ink Drawing:
"Demon Dragon of the Night" Female Cave Weta

Wetas are members of an ancient group of insects that has fossils dating back 190 million years. They are endemic to New Zealnd and include the world's largest insect.    Some species have a formidable appearance and this combined with the clinging quality of the leg spines of some earned them the title "Demon Dragons" among early settlers.

There are three families, of which Cave Wetas are one. Cave Wetas include at least 61 known species, including this one - Gymnoplectron longipes (long foot). They live in caves or open enclosures venturing out for short periods on moonless nights. We have a large family of them in our small pumphouse. It makes servicing the pump a bit of a mission until you get used to them, as they leap around in the enclosed space. They obviously consider it a good place to be.

Cave Wetas make no sound and have no hearing apparatus but they do have a great sense of touch and can jump - some species quite spectacularly. A good sized specimen of this species would be about 8" in overall length.

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