US Insect Society to Rename Gypsy Moths and Gypsy Ants
It's common to see the huge white webbed nests of Gypsy Moth Caterpillars here in Connecticut.
Last year in New Hampshire, I was amazed at how many had made nests in the thousands of trees up there. Connecticut has kept our Gypsy Moth population down in recent decades, I remember in the 70's and 80's when they were rampant. My grandfather used to climb up the tree and burn the nests with a torch.
According to the Entomological Society of America, The Northeast United States is in the midst of one of the largest outbreaks of Gypsy Moths in decades and that's probably one of the last times that you'll read the terms "Gypsy Moth" or "Gypsy Ant", ever.
According to a press release from The Entomological Society of America (our nation's bug scientists), the Society has decided to discontinue the use of the term and recognized common name "Gypsy" when describing Lymantria dispar - the Gypsy Moth, and Aphaenogaster araneoides - the Gypsy Ant, due to the word "Gypsy" being deemed a possible derogatory or offensive term for people of Romani decent.
According to ESA President Michelle S. Smith:
"The purpose of common names is to make communication easier between scientists and the public they serve. By and large, ESA's list of recognized insect common names succeeds in this regard, but names that are unwelcoming to marginalized communities run directly counter to that goal. That's why we're working to ensure all ESA-approved insect common names meet our standards for diversity, equity, and inclusion"
The word Gypsy is a Noun and it's defined as A) a member of a people originating in Southeast Asia, and traditionally having an itinerant way of life, living widely dispersed. or B) a nomadic or free-spirited person.
The Gypsy Moth (or Moth) is native to Eurasia and is a serious invasive pest to North American forests, chowing on more than 300 species of trees and shrubs.
The next step? The ESA will convene a volunteer group to propose a new name for both the Moth and the Ant and then the ESA Governing Board will make it so. If you would like to see the complete list of the ESA's Common Insect Names, click HERE