TEE HU HU.
The Hu Hu is the larva of the largest beetle in New 'Zealand, and was much esteemed by the Maoris as a delicacy, though not the principal food, as some would have us believe. No one, looking at it in its grub-hood would ever suspect it of growing up into a fine, armoured beetle. For it is not ushered into the world in that form, but as a tiny, screw-shaped grub, with a minute light-brown head. It begins life by tunnelling itself into the interior of' a tree, where it lives, concealed by the darkness, growing and thriving on the fragments of wood it bites .off with its strong jaws. For months and months it luxuriates in its gloomy burrow, eating the timber, aijd filling its vicinity with sawdust. Though small and insignificant, a number of them can in a comparatively short time level huge trees ; all is grist that comes to their mill, and they seem equally as partial to the imported trees, as to the native, The skins of this grub are shed after the style of a caterpillar's. When the pupal rest is at hand, it quits its sawdust galleries for a firm oval cavity about the size of a wal-
nut; this exactly fits the recumbent position it requires for casting off the last grub suit, and to await in dormancy the day of its release. The future winged-shape is vaguely perceptible now, for it has wing cases, legs, and antennae, all 'beautifully enclosed in semi-transparent wrappings. But such a poor, helpless, white thing it is, looking about as comfortable as a boy tied up in a sack. After many weeks the colour grows visibly darker beneath the casings, and the occupant rouses to exertion, for the top of its he/adgear has split. A little shudder thrills the insect through, and loosens the case ; by degrees the long-jointed antennae/ are carefully eased out, a leg is gently twirled and extricated, then a few more convulsive squirms and wriggles, aided by a continuous bobbing of tlhe head, with extreme care and deliberation (as it stands a chance of going through life minus a leg, or with mutilated antennae if it were too hasty) away goes another half ; there now remains but a few decisive kicks and pushes to throw off the old, useless overall. It is a thrilling experience to watch, for the first time, a beetle thusi deliver itself from the pupal bonds, and a grand lesson on patience and perseverance. The soft, ungainly, dwarf-winged insect has now to regain its breath and meditate on its deliverance, whilst the wing-cases, and wings, harden and develop. After that it has only to support itself in the insect world, until oldage, or some other adversity in the form of a boy, or a bird carries it off.
They: have a fierce kind of an air about them which is not Justified by their harmlessnes'S. As they usually roam around in the night season, they are often attracted by the glitter of the lampi-light, and create a great "flop " when they alight in brie' s. room unannounced. They were facetiously dubbed " Dormitory Fleas " from this nocturnal habit, by the boys of a college not a hundred miles away.
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TEE HU HU., New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 February 1904
TEE HU HU. New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 February 1904
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