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New cockroach species in Singapore named after 7th gen Pokémon Pheromosa

Bug-type Pokémon trainers won't need a Pokéball to catch this one.

The Noctila Pheromosa was discovered by two Pokemon fans who happen to be entomologists. (Photo: Niantic, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum)
The Noctila Pheromosa was discovered by two Pokemon fans who happen to be entomologists. (Photo: Niantic, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum)

Move aside, Gimmighoul and Gholdengo, there’s a new Pokémon in town that you may spot while exploring the streets. And this is a real one in the wild.

But we don’t think many of you might want to go out of your way to catch these, as they are a new species of cockroach found in Singapore.

The Nocticola Pheromosa was discovered and reported by entomologists Foo Maosheng and Cristian Caballes Lucañas.

During an insect survey study conducted in Singapore's Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, male specimens of Nocticola Pheromosa were gathered and brought to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore for identification.

The discovery was the first instance of the genus being recorded in the country.

The male specimen was compared against other cockroach species, where it was found that their male genitalia was different from others.

Lucañas, an entomologist at the University of the Philippines Los Baños Museum of Natural History in the Philippines and the study's primary author, stumbled upon photos of the creatures on The Biodiversity of Singapore website and contacted Foo to help and give additional insight.

Nocticola Pheromosa is more fragile than the American cockroach, the species most people think of when they hear 'cockroach', according to Foo.

Upon realising that the cockroach had never been scientifically documented, Lucañas decided to publish their findings after a thorough analysis with Foo.

The new species joins the other 22 members of its genus, all of which can be found in either Australia or the tropics of Africa, India, mainland Asia, or Southeast Asia.

Pokémon namesake

The Nocticola Pheromosa was named after Pheromosa, a Bug and Fighting type 7th generation Pokémon.

The said type of cockroach resembles the Lissome Pokémon, especially with the shape of the wings. The fearsome Ultra Beast became popular in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon.

The Ultra Beast Pheromosa became popular in Sun and Moon. (Photo: Nintendo)
The Ultra Beast Pheromosa became popular in Sun and Moon/ (Photo: Nintendo)

According to a report by The Straits Times, Foo Maosheng said that he and his collaborator are both “Pokémon fans, so we thought, why not name the cockroach after a Pokémon inspired by a cockroach”.

Foo said there are few studies of cockroaches and termites because “they are less charismatic than bees, butterflies, and beetles”.

Cockroaches, in particular, almost always have a negative image, but Foo believes they have a role in the ecosystem.

“I’m just like one of those bug-type trainers (in Pokémon) as I go to different places to find out more about what insects we have,” he told The Straits Times. “This contributes to the museum for research and education and The Biodiversity of Singapore website, which is kind of like our local Pokédex.”

Other Pokémon in science

The Nocticola Pheromosa isn’t the first to be named after Pokémon. The most recent ones were three Australian beetles with distinctive red, orange, and yellow markings named after the rare avian Pokémon Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres in 2021.

There was also Chilicola Charizard, a bee discovered in Chile in 2016. A type of wasp in 2011 was named the Stentorceps Weedlei, after the Weedle.

Another was a prehistoric creature named the Aerodactylus Scolopaciceps, named after the Pokémon Aerodactyl. While it was discovered in the 1850s, it was only named in 2014.

And who would have thought that loveable starter Bulbasaur would also share its name with a prehistoric species?

The Bulbasaurus Phylloxyron is an extinct lizard in Africa that lived during the late Permian period. The species name, phylloxyron, means "leaf razor". While neither its name nor species was a reference to anything Pokémon, the scientists that discovered it were more than happy to have a pop culture connection.

Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.

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