Scientists Rename "Gypsy Moth" In Bid To Change Offensive Common Names

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The largest group of bug scientists in the world has announced that it is renaming the invasive forest moth commonly called the "Gypsy Moth."

The term "Gypsy" is considered a slur by many Romani people. The Entomological Society of America announced it was changing the name of the moth, known scientifically as Lymantria dispar, last week as part of the "Better Common Names" project, which will rename common insects with inaccurate, outdated, or derogative names.

The moth has wreaked havoc on Massachusetts forests since its accidental introduction by Professor Leopold Trouvelot in Medford, in 1869. Since then, the moth has spread throughout the Northeastern United States, munching on leaves and sometimes defoliating entire swaths of woods. The latest major outbreak was in 2016, when the moths ate through 345,000 acres of forest in the state.

The moths' populations in Massachusetts usually increase in prolonged abnormally dry conditions, which the state has avoided in the last few years.

The Entomological Society said the moth will be renamed by a group of volunteers.

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Written by Chaiel Schaffel

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