Saturday, 13 April 2013

A little gift on the doorstep

When you have cats, you have to get used to odd and sometimes gross gifts on the doorstep, but this morning's little surprise didn't come from the cats.
Wētā dropping with embedded seeds.  The New Zealand 10c coin is 20.5 mm diameter
Wētā are large flightless Orthopterans (crickets), and this is wētā poop.  The dropping is about 5 mm diameter, so this is a big insect.  Note the embedded seeds; they've passed right through the wētā's gut. Probably it was a Wellington tree wētā (Hemideina crassidens), which are common in the garden.  These seeds are quite large, and I suspect they're Coprosma robusta.
Coprosma robusta in fruit, Tunnel Gully, Wellington.
I could wash them out and put them under the microscope to confirm their identity, but instead, I've just planted the poop to see what comes up.  I'll report back when I get a result.
A close-up of the seeds.
Duthie et al. (2006) reported wētā dispersal of seeds in New Zealand.  Mostly the seeds dispersed were smaller than these.  The underside of this dropping had several more showing, so I'm expecting up to 8 or even 10 seedlings.


Duthie, C., Gibbs, G., Burns, K.C., 2006. Seed dispersal by weta. Science 311: 1575.

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