A panel of experts from the Entomological Society of America (ESA) will propose new names for the moth Lymantria dispar and the ant Aphaenogaster araneoides. It comes after the society’s president, Michelle Smith, said the names are “ethnic slurs”.
She said: “It’s an ethnic slur, to begin with, that’s been rejected by the Romani people a long time ago.
“Nobody wants to be associated with a harmful invasive pest.”
This comes as part of a broader inclusivity drive by the ESA to “help ensure that insect common names are respectful, inclusive and descriptive of the insect”.
The term “gypsy moth” has been used since at least 1908 according to ESA archives.
Lepidopterists – a branch of entomology concerning the scientific study of moths – said the gypsy moth was named due to the insect travelling great distances.
The moth’s appetite enables them to strip entire forests of leaves so the trees are vulnerable to disease and other pests, the Times reported.
Currently, the northern US and east of Canada are in the midst of the biggest outbreak in decades.
Trees throughout Ottawa have been wrapped with burlap sacks and duct tape to stop the insects from climbing them.
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“Offensive gypsy moth to be renamed as insects fall victim to the culture war.”
Someone else said: “Oh just when I thought this PC thing couldn’t get any more ridiculous.
“I was wrong… They’re insects for crying out loud!”
Another added: “Bloody hell, how lame to change the name of a moth because of an ‘ethnic slur’.
“Can’t just be the name of the moth, can it?
“Going so overboard with all this tripe.”
A fourth person commented: “Oh for heaven’s sake.
“You woke idiots have lost your minds.
“Better change the name of Siamese cats.
“Let’s see how long that takes.”
Others pointed out how the change in the name has nothing to do with science but with “money”.
One Twitter user wrote: “That is not science has nothing to do with science just like everything else today has nothing to do with science it’s all about the money.”