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Invasive moth gets new name

A female <em>Lymantria dispar</em> moth lays her eggs on the trunk of a tree in Connecticut in 2008. In July 2021, the Entomological Society of America announced it was dropping the common name of this destructive insect that is also an slur against a group of people: the gypsy moth.
A female <em>Lymantria dispar</em> moth lays her eggs on the trunk of a tree in Connecticut in 2008. In July 2021, the Entomological Society of America announced it was dropping the common name of this destructive insect that is also an slur against a group of people: the gypsy moth.

A pest known for feeding on oak trees and other plants in Michigan has a new name.

Its official name is the Lymantria dispar moth. The invasive moth will now commonly be called the “spongy moth.”

The new common name refers to the moth’s sponge-like egg masses. It will replace the former name which used a derogatory term for the Romani people.

Joanne Foreman is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She says when these moths are in their caterpillar stage, they are voracious eaters.

"So they were in forests, in people's backyards, just chewing leaves on oak trees. And then when they ran out of oak leaves, they’d go to other trees. And the sheer number of them caused defoliation in a lot of trees across the state."

Foreman says there was a big outbreak of spongy moths last year.