Wetapunga (Deinacrida heteracantha), New Zealand's largest insect, were formerly abundant in forests of northern New Zealand. However, they are now restricted to onepopulation on mammal-free Little Barrier Island (3083 ha). This study investigated the movements, habitat use and behavior of 22 adult wetapunga fitted with miniature radiotransmitters for up to 18 nights. Adult wetapunga appeared to be quite mobile, with males (16 m per night) moving further than females (8 m per night). Differences in the distances travelled by adult male and female wetapunga between daytime refuges appear due to differences in reproductive behavior. Wetapunga were associated with silverfern, nikau palm, kanuka, and kohekohe within second-growth coastal forest on Little Barrier Island. The majority of wetapunga were found above ground level, but were also occasionally found moving on the ground. In addition, adult wetapunga were found in relatively open sites with little or no cover and were clearly visible by day. Wetapunga were generally solitary and the majority of their activities, such as feeding, movements and oviposition, occurred at night. The one exception is mating (actual copulation and pre-, post-copulatory behavior), which usually occurred during daylight after weta had paired during the previous night. During the study, one male wetapunga was eaten by an unknown avian predator. Radiotelemetry has extended our knowledge of adult wetapunga behavior and this monitoring technique could be readily applied to other large invertebrates.
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