The Entomological Society of America has decided to rename the insect because scientists say the moniker is an ethnic slur considered offensive by some Romani people!
Scientists are getting rid of the tree-destroying pest’s title along with that of the little-known gypsy ant.
“It’s an ethnic slur, to begin with, that’s been rejected by the Romani people a long time ago,’’ said society President Michelle Smith. “Second, nobody wants to be associated with a harmful invasive pest.”
To further explain, the critters, also known as the Lymantria dispar, were dubbed “gypsies” in the early 1900s because their larvae can float for miles using hair with small air pockets — which scientists compared to “wandering” Romani people.
But other researchers have theorized that the term comes from the tan colour of the male moths, which researchers may have viewed as similar to the skin tone of members of the ethnic group.
It’s time for a new name!