The spongy moth’s new name replaces an ethnic slur

A menacing pest just became a bit less problematic, at least socially, after getting an update to its common name. Lymantria dispar is an invasive insect previously known as the gypsy moth — a label that contains an ethnic slur. On March 2, the Entomological Society of America renamed L. dispar the spongy moth.

The updated term is a nod to the moth’s porous egg casing. It was selected through ESA’s Better Common Names Project, after hundreds of new name suggestions for L. dispar poured in from the public after the society retired the old name last July (SN: 8/25/21). ESA elected the moth for a rebrand primarily due

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