ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBS/AP) –U.S. bug experts are dropping the name gypsy moth because it is considered an ethnic slur. The invasive caterpillars have been a big problem for New England trees in recent years.
The Entomological Society of America says the name for the destructive moth is offensive.READ MORE: 7-Month-Old With Rare Genetic Condition Sent Home From Hospital For The First Time Since Being Born
“It’s an ethnic slur to begin with that’s been rejected by the Romani people a long time ago,” society president Michelle S. Smith told the Associated Press. “Second, nobody wants to be associated with a harmful invasive pest.”
It’s the first time the society has changed the common name of an insect because it is derogatory. Until a new name is decided, experts will call it Lymantria dispar, its scientific name.READ MORE: Market Basket Worker Hoping To Spread Kindness Helps Veteran Pay For Groceries
Back in 2016, the moths’ effect on trees in the region could be seen from space. They can cause an itchy rash on anyone who comes in contact with them, and their destruction of trees can cause fire concerns.
“Once they’re at the adult phase of their life, (they can) decimate the trees canopy in a couple of days,” arborist Eric Taylor said.MORE NEWS: Keller @ Large: Some Republicans Ramp Up Appeals To Get Vaccinated, But Not So Much In Massachusetts
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)