10 of the Biggest Bugs on Earth

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weta and tomato photo
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Appreciation for nature is easy when it comes to the cute, the little, the non-threatening creatures...but what about the massive insects and arachnids on these pages, many of which are endangered or threatened: How would you feel facing down a spider the size of a dinner plate or an 8-inch-long beetle?

Giant Weta

New Zealand's giant weta gets its name from the Maori word for "god of bad looks" -- and it's not hard to see why.

The giant weta could hardly be called pretty but it has a fascinating history: Scientists believe this species shared its land with dinosaurs, and had no local predators until European settlers introduced rats to the island.

Though there are more than 70 weta species on the island, 16 of them are endangered or threatened, and the country's Department of Conservation is hard at work trying to save them.

The giant weta is one of the world's heaviest insects: They can grow as long as three inches and weigh up to 1.5 ounces -- check out the tomato in the background for a size comparison.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons