If you have noticed more people than usual just wandering across roads without looking recently, chances are they were playing Pokémon Go.
This game uses augmented reality to lead players on a chase to capture Pokémon cartoon animals. The thing is, I reckon we could do a pretty decent job of this game using REAL animals in Aotearoa New Zealand. Here are a few suggestions and comparisons with actual Pokémon Go characters:
This Pokémon is a vivid green caterpillar and of course we have many larvae of moths and butterflies that could substitute for Caterpie, but my vote goes to the green looper caterpillar. This is the larva of the moth Chryodeixis eriosoma and is commonly found in veggy patches around the country. It is actually a pest if you like growing veggies, but instead of spraying them with pesticide that may leave residues in your crop, why not try placing strips of cardboard around the base of your plants instead?
This scary looking Pokémon is clearly based upon a praying mantis, and these are common around the country during summer months. The praying mantis is famous for a mating ritual where the female eats the head of the male during copulation – but studies show this is actually not that common among mantis’ in nature. What you may not know is that the native New Zealand praying mantis is under threat from a foreign invader, the South African or ‘springbok’ mantis. You can tell the kiwi mantis by its deep green colour and tell-tale blue spots on the forearms.
This scary-looking horned Pokémon beast bears a remarkable resemblance to a staghorn beetle. These might be ‘rare’ captures in a real life game of Pokémon Go because sadly several species are endangered. Take for example our very own Mokihanau stag beetle, it is known only from a single isolated island east of Auckland, due to predation by rats and other pest species.
So what are you waiting for, ditch those hand-phones, get your field guides out – and play REAL Pokémon Go!
Featured image: Flickr / Eduardo Woo