Gina Martinez, Daily Mail, March 3, 2022
Scientists have formally renamed the gypsy moth because the moniker is a term Romani people view as derogatory.
The new common name for the Lymantria dispar moth will now be ‘Spongy Moth,’ the Entomological Society of America announced this week.
The name change completes a process that started back in July 2021 to approve the addition of spongy moth to ESA’s common names of insects and related organisms list.
Now that Spongy Moth is added to the list, it will now be used in articles, scientific journals, presentations, posters, websites, social media and public policy documents, the ESA said.
‘Lymantria dispar is a damaging pest in North American forests, and public awareness is critical in slowing its spread. ‘Spongy moth’ gives entomologists and foresters a name for this species that reinforces an important feature of the moth’s biology and moves away from the out-dated term that was previously used,’ ESA President Jessica Ware, Ph.D, said.
The ‘Spongy’ name was recommended by a group that had over 50 scientists and professionals who work in research or forest management settings as well as Romani scholars working on human rights issues.
The name refers to the moth’s fluffy, sponge-like egg masses.
According to the ESA, the Spongy Moth can defoliate hundreds of tree and shrub species and the primary way it spreads is via egg masses when transported on firewood, outdoor equipment, and vehicles.
The ‘invasive pest’ is now widespread in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada and costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year in damage and prevention and control efforts, the ESA said.
The name change comes after the term ‘gyspy’ has been widely declared a racist slur against the Romani people, an Indo-Aryan ethnic group who mostly live in Europe, and in America.
The Romani people consider the term ‘gyspy’ derogatory due to its connotations of illegality and its historical use as a racial slur.
While scientist as ESA consider the name as a step in the right direction, some people say its just another ‘woke’ move.
‘Just read the Gypsy moth name has changed to the Spongy moth. I guess we were offending Gypsies,’ one person tweeted.
Another person did not hold back, saying the name was not offensive: ‘You f***heads are really something… Gypsy Moth is offensive now and spongy moth is its new name… please for the love of everything stooooppppp!!!!!!’
Someone else was not impressed with the name change, saying it would do very little in the long run, tweeting: ‘Here’s your congratulatory cookie. you have now put an end to injustice and hatred by a simple name change. Smfh.’