Why This Invasive Species Now Has a New, Less Offensive Name in Minnesota
This invasive pest that's been causing problems in Minnesota for nearly 50 years is now sporting a new, less offensive name.
What we've formerly called the 'gypsy moth' is an invasive species here in Minnesota that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been trying to control since the early 70s. The DNR says it feeds on more than 300 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, including aspen, oak, and birch. Those moths eat the leaves on suspect trees which then leaves them vulnerable to disease-- and can even kill them.
But don't call it a 'gypsy moth' anymore! Because that species is no longer being referred to by that term here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The DNR noted in 2021 that it was following the lead of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and was discontinuing the use of the term 'gypsy moth' when referring to Lymantria dispar (that's the moths' Latin name the DNR said it would temporarily use instead.)
So why is it being replaced? The ESA said it's because the term 'gypsy moth' contains a derogatory term for the Romani people of northern India. So now, in the latest Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List, the ESA said that the new name for Lymantria dispar will be 'spongy moth.'
The ESA said the new name (which refers to the sponge-like egg masses the moth produces) was chosen from more than 200 nominations evaluated by a group of more than 50 scientists. The group said it looked at answers from "more than 1,000 responses about seven finalist names," the ESA said in a release.
So, don't call it a 'gypsy moth' anymore in Minnesota-- it's now the 'spongy moth.' And, forget insects, when it comes to naughty-sounding names, the following cities and towns in here Minnesota are at the top of the list, as are some of Minnesota's toughest-to-pronounce lake names. Keep scrolling to see how many you know!