The Entomological Society of America is officially getting with the times.
The insect science group announced on Wednesday that the insects formally known as Aphaenogaster araneoides and Lymantria dispar will no longer be referred to as “gypsy ants” and “gypsy moths,” respectively. The word that appears in each insect’s “common” name is a racial slur for Romani people, and the ESA has decided that its use has no place in the modern world…
The group’s Better Common Names Project is just what it sounds like: An effort to root out any examples of problematic names on the ESA Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List. The effort starts with a task force that will be looking at: names containing “derogative terms,” names for invasive bugs that include “inappropriate geographic references,” and names “that inappropriately disregard what the insect might be called by native communities.”
The first phase of this sprawling effort is where we, the people of the internet, come in. While it’s not the kind of situation that could end with a fleet of Buggy McBugface-style names, the ESA is soliciting input from the public.