Insect experts find new name for destructive gypsy moths | Scientific news
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP science writer
Insect experts are abandoning the common name of a destructive insect because it is considered an ethnic insult: the gypsy moth.
The Entomological Society of America, which oversees the common names of insects, is getting rid of the common name for this creature and the lesser-known gypsy ant. The group announced this week that for the first time they had changed the common name of an insect because it was offensive. In the past, they only reassigned names that were not scientifically correct.
“It is an ethnic insult to begin with which was rejected by the Roma people a long time ago,” said company president Michelle S. Smith. “Second, no one wants to be associated with a harmful invasive pest. “
The company is closely examining some of the more than 2,000 common insect names to remove derogatory and geographically inaccurate names. About 20 years ago, a committee of fish experts renamed the Jewish fish to the goliath grouper.
Moths are invasive and destructive creatures in the caterpillar stage. They have a voracious appetite that can strip entire forests of leaves, said University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum, former president of the company.
Moths probably get their name from the fact that as larvae they have hair with small air pockets that act like balloons allowing them to float for miles, wandering like the group of people they have. been appointed, said Berenbaum. Another theory is that adult male butterflies have a beige color which could be similar to that of Roma.
The Entomological Society is now researching a new common name, a process that will take months, Smith said. So far, although it’s a mouthful, Smith said moths should be referred to by their scientific name, Lymantria dispar or L. dispar.
Berenbaum – who has written about plants, animals and genetic mutations with strange names – said that given the destructiveness of moths, she and others would have ideas for a new descriptive name.
“You are not allowed to use obscenities,” she said, “so it is prohibited.”
Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears.
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