Scientists are dropping the ‘offensive’ names for these moth and ant species

The Entomological Society of America has announced the ‘gypsy’ moth, and ‘gypsy’ ant species will no longer be referred to as such.

The organisation will be changing the common name of the ‘gypsy’ moth and lesser-known ant species.

The word is considered a derogatory term used against Romani people.

Moth rename
Image: NPR.org

Chris Stelzig, the executive director of the organisation, spoke of the decision: “Words matter, and what we call something matters. And by using the former name for Lymantria dispar, it really was very hurtful to the Romani people,”

Initially, the request came in 2020 to change their names.

However, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) decided to remove the names in June, and the change was implemented last Wednesday.

Saw in the news that they’re FINALLY giving Lymantria dispar a new common name in English…looooong overdue

— what i did at naptime (@krenitsele) July 11, 2021

ESA archives show the offensive names for the moth and ant used since around 1908 and 2006, respectively.

Stelzig says the ESA keeps a database of more than 2,000 common names for insects, along with their scientific names.

They’re constantly changing,  mainly for scientific reasons due to “a new name is more descriptive of how they are actually in nature these days.”

The Entomological Society is now searching for a new common name, particularly for the moth, as it is a more widely used name than the ant.

The president of The Entomological Society of America, Michelle S. Smith, said the moth and ant should be referred to their scientific names Lymantria dispar and Aphaenogaster araneoides despite being a mouthful.