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Invasive moth species with offensive label renamed to 'spongy moth'

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Posted at 11:14 AM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 11:14:38-05

MICHIGAN — An invasive moth species formerly given a derogatory term for Romani people has been given a new name.

The Entomological Society of America has renamed the Lymantria dispar moth’s common name to the “spongy moth,” according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The spongy moth is described as having a yellow face with red and blue spots found along its backside. An explosion in the moth’s population last year led to a loss of trees in areas where the moths swarmed.

“When an invasive species carries the name of a nation or culture, it’s easy to unintentionally associate that culture with the pest’s harmful effects,” says Joanne Foreman with the DNR. “We anticipate additional common name changes for other invasive species to reduce these negative connotations.”

We’re told the new name is derived from the moth’s eggs, which reportedly exhibit the appearance of sea sponges.

Click here to read more on invasive species in Michigan.

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