Hello and welcome to a special edition of “Who’s that Pokémon⁈” Today is February 27th, which of course means that it is “Pokémon Day,” the annual celebration of the anniversary of the release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green in Japan in 1996. For today we will discuss the “Trainee Pokémon,” Nincada!
Depending on where in the world you are from Nincada, and its evolutionary line, is either immediately recognizable for completely inscrutable. Nincada first appeared in the third generation of Pokémon for Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire, and its pokedex entries in those first games give a few small hints about Nincada’s origin. According to Pokémon Ruby, “Nincada lives underground for many years in complete darkness. This Pokémon absorbs nutrients from the roots of trees. It stays motionless as it waits for evolution.” Sapphire offers a little bit more information, “Nincada lives underground. It uses its sharp claws to carve the roots of trees and absorb moisture and nutrients. This Pokémon can’t withstand bright sunlight so avoids it.” What is Nincada? Nincada is a Cicada larvae.
Cicadas are a widely distributed species of insects, with over 1300 species found on every continent aside from Antarctica, mostly in tropical regions, and have existed since the Jurassic Period, around 150 million years ago. Depending on the species of cicada, they can spend anywhere from one year to seventeen years as a larvae, burrowed underground where they feed on the xylem sap (one of the two types of transport tissue in vascular plants, like trees) of various species of trees, including oak, cypress, willow, ash, and maple. When the time has come for the larvae to shed their skin, they burrow to the surface and attach themselves to the side of three, where they will emerge as a fully grown cicada leaving their exuviae behind still attached stiffly to the tree. It is common folklore that adult cicadas do not eat for their adult life, but they actually continue to suck the same tree sap that they subsisted upon as larvae.
Nincada is a pretty special Pokémon, since it evolves into two Pokémon at the same time! If the player has five or fewer Pokémon and an extra Pokeball, when Nincada evolves into Ninjask, the player will also finds that Shedinja has joined their party. While Ninjask is clearly a cicada, Shedinja is the remaining exuviae left behind. This is illustrated by the large wings on Shedinja’s back, which represent the exoskeleton split apart to allow Ninjask to emerge, and in fact in the games when Shedinja is facing forward it is clear that there is a hollow black whole in-between the “wings.”
Well, trainers, what do you think? Did you know about Nincada’s origins, or is all of this entomology news to you? And as always, if you have requests for the next issue feel free to shout out in the comments, or holler at us on twitter! See you next week trainers, and happy Pokémon Day!