Entomological Society of America renames invasive moth
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
On Wednesday, the America renamed the caterpillar formerly known as "gypsy moth" to "spongy moth" in English as part of its Better s Project.
Its scientific name remains.
The society announced they were removing the common name last July, but did not choose a new name until last week, when the Society voted unanimously for "spongy moth."
Romani scholar Magda Matache of 's Roma Program reported: "Gypsy is considered a racial by many Romani people. It carries a very painful history, and it is offensive." The Romani, or Roma, have faced considerable prejudice in Europe and North America.
The 57 people from the Project assigned to this species took comments from the general public and examined more than 200 suggested names. "Spongy moth," from thespongieuse, was proposed in January. The "spongy" refers to the sponge-like appearance of the egg masses that harbor the animal's eggs through winter.
It also matches the common names given to this animal in other languages: "sponge-spinner" inand "sponge-knitter" in . According to CNN, the animal is most likely to spread to new areas during its egg stage, as they travel from being laid on firewood or vehicles.
The caterpillars are brown in color and covered in spines and blue and red spots. They can eat the leaves off a tree until bare of foliage. Altogether, spongy moth caterpillars have defoliated 1 million acres of North American trees per year since 1980.
"They basically, like, are just chewing their way through deciduous forests," Jessica Ware of the Entomological Society of America reports, citing a children's picture book. "'Spongy moth' is already beginning to appear in media stories and other online resources, which we're excited to see. But we know this name change won't happen overnight," she said.
"Particularly in books or print products, or regulations related to L. dispar, phasing in use of the new name may take some time. ESA will continue to provide supporting resources for organizations adopting this change."
The Entomological Society of America is the world's largest professional organization for insect scientists.
- Kristen Rogers. "An invasive species now has a new name to replace ethnic slur" — , March 4, 2022
- Jane Lindholm. "New name, same destructive habits: Meet the Spongy Moth" — , March 3, 2022
- "Spongy Moth Lymantria dispar" — , March 3, 2022 (date of access)
- "'Spongy Moth' Adopted as New Common Name for Lymantria dispar" — , March 2, 2022