Huhu is now often used as the name for all stages of life of the beetle, but traditionally huhu was the Māori name for the larval stage, which was also known as tunga rakau or tunga haere. The whitish larvae are up to 70 millimetres (2.8 in) long and normally feed on dead wood of gymnosperms (mainly native and introduced conifers). The native host plants are all associated with lowland podocarp forest. They are edible, and are said by some to taste like buttery chicken.
As the huhu reaches maturity it ceases to bore 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 a huhu beetle or to Maori as tunga rere. In this full adult stage it no longer eats food and only lives for approximately 2 weeks.
The beetles are most active at night and are attracted by the lights of dwelling. Though not usually aggressive, huhu beetles are known to bite when mis-handled.
- 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 2011-08-28.
- 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.
- "Weird Food from around the World". 2008. Retrieved July 18, 2008.
- "Huia". The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Extinct Species of Modern Times. 1. Beacham Publishing. 1997. pp. 63–65.
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