Novel cockroach species found in Singapore gets named after Pokemon

A new species of cockroach found in Singapore has been named after a Pokemon, Pheromosa. A specimen of the previously unknown species was collected between 2016 and 2017 in a forest at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve during an insect survey. Its identity remained a mystery until Mr Foo Maosheng, Scientific Officer and Entomologist from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS, partnered with Mr Cristian Lucañas of the UPLB Museum of Natural History in the Philippines, to study it in greater detail.

No record of the cockroach was found in Singapore when the specimen was collected between 2016 and 2017, which suggested that the species was yet to be formally documented. The two entomologists published their discovery in the Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology on 27 February 2023, outlining the characteristics of this new species of cockroach.

Being fans of the video game series, Pokemon, Mr Foo and Mr Lucañas came up with the name Nocticola pheromosa for this newly identified species of cockroach due to the cockroach’s physical characteristics bearing much resemblance to the Pokemon that was inspired by a cockroach, Pheromosa. It is also the first time a cockroach from the genus Nocticola – meaning fond of the night in Latin – has been found in Singapore. This new species will join 22 others within the same genus, which has been found in tropical Africa, India, mainland Asia and South-east Asia as well as Australia.

This new species was found to be similar to the Nocticola adebratti Roth from Borneo in terms of its wings and eyes. But differences were also found between the Singapore and Bornean species with regards to the arrangement of veins on its wings and male genitalia. Dissection of Nocticola pheromosa allowed the two entomologists to discover that it was actually a species new to the scientific community.

In an interview with the Straits Times, Mr Foo expressed his passion for insects and likened himself to a bug-type trainer in Pokemon who would travel around to discover more about insects in Singapore and contributing information about these insects to the museum for research and education.

Read more here.