Photo of the week: New Zealand flax weevil

Department of Conservation —  07/01/2018

You’ve heard of New Zealand’s large, flightless birds, but did you know that we have several species of large, flightless weevil too?

One of these is the New Zealand flax weevil. These big bugs are about 20 millimetres long and live exclusively on harakeke (New Zealand flax) and the smaller wharariki (mountain/coastal flax).

Flax weevils on Mana Island.

Flax weevil on Mana Island. Photo: Jack Mace

Flax weevils were once widespread throughout New Zealand, but are now only found on a few small rodent-free islands as rats and mice love to eat them.

If you want to see one of these rare beetles, we recommend you visit Mana Island, off the west coast of Wellington. In 2004 the rodent-free island had 80 flax weevils translocated there from Te Pākeka/Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds. Another 70 weevils were released two years later, and the beetles thrived in their new home. These threatened insects are now so abundant on the island that they are eating entire flax plants to death.

If you head out to a Mana Island flax plant after dark you’re sure to spot a flax weevil or ten!

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