Build your own weta hotel and motel
Weta are all members of an ancient family that can be dated back to the dinosaurian ages. Nocturnal, and ranging in different sizes, weta are our most recognizable creepy-crawlies. Becoming icons for bug conservation in New Zealand with many species being threatened or endangered. There are more than 70 species of wētā distributed over the country, which 16 of which are at risk and only found on pest free off shore islands.
You can help the weta in your garden or school grounds by making them safe homes in Weta hotels. A weta hotel is basically a nice dry holes that weta can crawl into and be safe from predators like rats, mice, stoats, cats, birds and hedgehogs. They will spend their days in here and venture out at night when its much more safe.
A weta Hotel can be made from two lengths of 100 mm by 25 mm wood.
Three galleries are cut out of the first length of wood: one big gallery and two small galleries positioned under the large one.
The large gallery is 80mm by 50 mm by 25 mm. It has an entrance hole of 16 mm diameter.
The small galleries measure 80 mm by 20 mm by 25 mm. They sit side by side and each has an entrance hole of 16 mm.The back board is made from the second length of wood, and attached behind the first with gap filling glue.
A third length of wood can be attached in front as a cover board. The cover board keeps galleries dark during daylight hours – it can be hinged and kept closed with a hook and hasp, or attached by two bolts with wingnuts. Have a roof made of an angled piece of tin. Entrance holes (16 mm dia) should be drilled after gap filling glue has fully set.
Angle the entrance hole to avoid rainwater entering.
Any wood can be used, but easily bought Macrocarpa is a god timber to use, as well as radiata pine is okay.
Place unit on shady side of tree trunk, away from direct sunlight.
You may have seen weta motels in public places with a perspex window covering the cavity. This stops weta falling out when the door is opened, but it is said to cause humidity and is limiting for the weta. We use a light fitted perplex in ours.
Weta hideoiut which is basically a closed cell Foam Cover. They are basically lightweighted covers that can fit contour of trees and be waterproof too. They will offer good habitat to not only Weta, but also other invertebrates and also geckos as they mimic the natural cover of loose bark and hollows on tree trunks.
They are real easy to make and dont require much more than a few nails and hammer. You can make them as large or small as you want, a good size is a paper A3 size.
It might take some time for a weta to discover the Hotel or the hideout, but we have had weta visitors already after a few weeks. Good luck :D