11:42 AM PDT, July 10, 2021
The Entomological Society of America has announced that it will no longer refer to “gypsy moths” and “gypsy ant” by those names as they are derogatory to Romani people.
This will be the first time the organization has removed a common name from an insect because it is offensive to a specific community, The New York Times explains.
“If people are feeling excluded because of what we call something, that’s not acceptable,” Michelle Smith, the society’s president, said while explaining their decision. “We’re going to make changes to be a welcoming and inclusive society for all entomologists.”
Chris Stelzig, the executive director of the Entomological Society, states that they first received a formal request to remove the moth’s name from their list of approved common names in 2020.
Afterward, the common names committee revised its policies for acceptable names and reached out to Romani scholars for assistance.
The Entomological Society now has a Better Common Names Project, which is described as a “task force to review and replace offensive or inappropriate insect common names.”
This task force has a form where anyone can request to change insect common names. It will also work with community-driven working groups and other insect specialists to help propose new names.