The Entomological Society is renaming a moth species and an ant species to avoid a word deemed to be a “racial slur”

The Entomological Society of America is removing the names for a moth and an ant from its Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List because they include a word deemed a racial slur.  Those are the “gypsy moth” and the “gypsy ant.” The decision is a part of an effort by the ESA to identify and change traditional names that include negative ethnic or racial stereotypes.

“The purpose of common names is to make communication easier between scientists and the public audiences they serve,” explained ESA president Michelle S. Smith in a statement on Wednesday. “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,” she added.

“That’s why we’re working to ensure all ESA-approved insect common names meet our standards for diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The ESA Governing Board voted in June to remove the common names of the moth Lymantria dispar and the ant Aphaenogaster araneoides because the word “gypsy” is considered a racial slur against Romani people.

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