The insect Lymantria dispar formerly known as Gypsy Moth is now the Spongy Moth. It will not, alas, be any less of a problem.


The ESA Governing Board voted unanimously last week to approve the addition of “spongy moth” to ESA’s Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List, completing a process started in July 2021 when the previous name, “gypsy moth,” was removed due to its use of a derogatory term for the Romani people. The change is the first undertaken by ESA’s Better Common Names Project.

The name—derived from the common name used in France and French-speaking Canada, “spongieuse”—refers to the moth’s sponge-like egg masses.

I know that naming things is hard, but I’ve got to say that “spongy moth” sounds like a minor Beanie Baby.

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