From CSIRO Double Helix: News: Five reasons why insects are like Pokémon

If you’re a Pokémon fan, then you’re probably obsessed with collecting every species. But did you know that Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri got his inspiration from insects? Here are some reasons why entomology (the study of insects) is like playing Pokémon in real life.

5.       Transformation occurs in Pokémon and insects

Some Pokémon and insects undergo metamorphosis. These stages usually include egg, larva, pupa and adult. In butterflies, you may know this cycle as an egg becoming a caterpillar (larva), then a chrysalis (pupa), and finally an adult butterfly. An example from Pokémon is an egg hatching into a Caterpie, which turns into a Metapod, and then ends up as a Butterfree.

4.       Like Pokémon trainers, entomologists travel searching far and wide for new species

There are some great places to look for insects. There are 17 megadiverse hotspots containing 70 per cent of the world’s biodiversity, but these take up only 10 per cent of Earth’s total surface and are rich in insect species!

3.       Different traps catch different species

There are different types of Poké Ball for Pokémon, and different traps and lures for insect species. For example, net or flight-intercept traps are used for flying insects, and pitfall or emergence traps are better for ground-dwelling insects.

2.       Pokédex for insects exist

Entomologists use catalogues to record species, such as the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) online database. The ALA includes data like a Pokédex does, including species distribution and collection information.

1.       We need your help to catch (and describe) ‘em all!

If you thought 700 species of Pokémon were a handful, there are more than one million described insect species and another 30 million waiting to be described! Imagine if we came together to name all the species on Earth.

It’s your turn to be the very best entomologist that no one ever was! If you’re interested in entomology, start a digital collection by photographing then releasing your specimens, and visit or volunteer at your local museum’s insect collection.

More information

For more reasons why insects are like Pokémon, check out the next issue of Double Helix magazine. Subscribe to receive your copy!  

This article was written by Dr Bryan Lessard, aka Bry the Fly Guy. He’s an entomologist at CSIRO’s Australian National Insect Collection in Canberra.

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