Experts in bug control seek new names for the destructive gypsy moth

Because it is an ethnic slur, bug experts have dropped the common name for a destructive insect: the gypsy moth.

Experts in bug control seek new names for the destructive gypsy moth

The Entomological Society of America oversees common names of bugs and is getting rid of that common name for the critter as well as the less-known gypsy. This week, the group announced that it had changed the common name of an insect for the first-time. They have never reassigned names that were not scientifically correct in the past.

Michelle S. Smith, president of the society, stated that it's an ethnic slur. "Second: Nobody wants to be associated invasively with a harmful pest."

The society will be taking a close look at over 2,000 common insect names in order to eliminate derogatory or inaccurate names. A committee of fish experts changed the name of the jewfish to the goliath grouper 20 years ago.

In the caterpillar stage, moths can be invasive and destructive. May Berenbaum, University of Illinois entomologist, stated that they have a voracious appetite and can eat entire forests of leaves. She was also a past president of the society.

Berenbaum stated that the moths got their names because of their larvae's hair with tiny air pockets. This allows them to fly for miles and wander like the people they are named after. Another theory suggests that adult male moths may have a similar tan to Romani people.

Smith stated that the Entomological Society is currently searching for a new common name. This process will take several months. Smith suggested that the moths be called Lymantria dispar, or L. dispar, until then, even though it is a long name.

Berenbaum, who has written about strangely named animals, plants and gene mutations, said that, given the destructive nature of moths, she and others would have ideas for a new descriptive name.

She said that obscenities are not permitted.

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