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The huhu beetle (Prionoplus reticularis), is a longhorn beetle endemic to New Zealand. It is the heaviest beetle found in New Zealand.

Huhu beetle
Huhu beetle 05.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Cerambycidae
Subfamily: Prioninae
Genus: Prionoplus
Species: P. reticularis
Binomial name
Prionoplus reticularis
White, 1843


Māori nameEdit

To Māori, the larval form is known as huhu (also tunga haere, tunga rākau) with the adult stage known as pepe-te-muimui.[1][2] However, the larval and adult forms are commonly referred to as the huhu grub and huhu beetle, respectively.

As the huhu larva reaches maturity it ceases to bore in wood and casts its skin. This still edible stage is known in Maori as tataka. It then develops wings and legs, and while it is still white, it is known as pepe. Finally, it emerges and flies off to reproduce and is known as tunga rere.[2]

Life cycleEdit

Female adult huhu beetles oviposit their 3mm cigar-shaped eggs in clutches of 10–50.[3][4] Eggs hatch after approximately three weeks. Larvael duration of P. reticularis is two to three years.[3]

The whitish-coloured larvae measure up to 70 millimetres (2.8 in) long and normally feed on dead wood of gymnosperms (mainly native and introduced conifers) associated with lowland podocarp forest.[5] Following pupation and emergence, the adult beetle does not eat and lives for approximately two weeks.[2]


The beetles are nocturnal and are attracted by the lights of dwelling.[6] They have powerful mandibles, which can produce a painful bite.

As a food sourceEdit

The larvae of P. reticularis are edible. their flavour has been described as like buttery chicken.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "pepe-te-muimui". Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Best, Elsdon (1902). "Art. V.—Food Products of Tuhoeland: being Notes on the Food-supplies of a Non-agricultural Tribe of the Natives of New Zealand; together with some Account of various Customs, Superstitions, &c., pertaininy to Foods." Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 35: 64. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Miller, David; Walker, Annette (1984). Common insects in New Zealand (Rev. ed.). Wellington [N.Z.]: Reed. ISBN 0589014803. OCLC 12748887. 
  4. ^ "Huhu beetle". Te Papapa. Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  5. ^ John S Edwards (1959). "Host Range in Prionoplus reticularis" (PDF). Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 87 (Parts 3 and 4): 315–318. 
  6. ^ "Huia". The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Extinct Species of Modern Times. 1. Beacham Publishing. 1997. pp. 63–65. 
  7. ^ "Weird Food from around the World". 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008. 

External linksEdit