Renaming a moth to avoid an ethnic slur

An invasive moth will be getting a new name because its current one contains an ethnic slur.

The species Lymantria dispar dispar will no longer be called the “gypsy moth,” according to the Entomological Society of America. The Society will also drop the use of the name “gypsy ant,” according to a July 12, 2021, CNN article.

Margareta Matache, director of the Roma Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, was consulted on the name removal. She told CNN that although the change seems small, it can help rectify damaging narratives about the Romani people.

“Words have power, and more so, racial slurs like the G-word have been particularly offensive and dangerous for Romani people,” she said. “We have been constantly dehumanized through the means of language, and links to insects, animals, criminality, opulence.”

In a July 11 Washington Post article, Matache called the decision to rename the insects a “historic step.”

Read the CNN article: An invasive species has an ethnic slur in its common name. Entomologists are changing that

Read the Washington Post article: Scientists are renaming the ‘gypsy moth’ as part of broader push to root out offensive monikers