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ANNAPOLIS, MD (WJW) – The gypsy moth has a new name.

The Entomological Society of America voted to formally adopt “spongy moth” as the new common name for the moth species Lymantria dispar.

The process began in July 2021 when the term gypsy moth was removed due to its use of a derogatory term for the Romani people.

The name sponge moth refers to the moth’s sponge-like egg masses.

“’Spongy moth’ gives entomologists and foresters a name for this species that reinforces an important feature of the moth’s biology and moves away from the outdated term that was previously used,” ESA President Jessica Ware, Ph.D. said.

The spongy moth is an invasive pest of North American forests that can defoliate hundreds of tree and shrub species. Native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, it was introduced in Massachusetts in the 1800s and is now widespread in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada and costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year in damage and prevention and control efforts, according to the ESA.