Entomological Society of America Announces Moth and Ant Name Changes

A “Gypsy Moth”, now known solely as Lymantria dispar (Photo by Ben Sale, CC-BY-2.0)

Last Wednesday the Entomological Society of America announced that it will stop using common names of the Lymantria dispar moth and the Aphaenogaster araneoides ant: the “Gypsy Moth” and the “Gypsy Ant”. News outlets were quick to cover this story, as the New York Times garnered reactions from academics and entomologists, exploring the history of recent name changes in the entomology, ornithology, and other academic circles. The moth is particularly devastating to the Northeastern US, where its destruction regularly makes the news in places like the Finger Lakes and North Country regions of New York.

The move to rename the moth and ant is part of a greater initiative called the Better Common Names Project, wherein the society expresses the desire to bridge the gap between entomologists and the general public. The project acknowledges that “common names of insects were formally recognized in the early 20th century to help bridge communication between those who study insects and those who don’t. However, not all common names accepted over the past 120 years align with the goal of better communication, and some hinder it.” The project aims to end the use of “problematic names perpetuate harm against people of various ethnicities and races, create an entomological and cultural environment that is unwelcoming and non-inclusive, disrupt communication and outreach, and counteract the very purpose of common names.”

Until a new name is announced, scientists will use the Latin names Lymantria dispar and Aphaenogaster araneoides to refer to these insects. If you are interested in joining the committee responsible for renaming this moth, you can fill out an application form here.

Arlington County to Rename “Lee Highway” after Black Abolitionist Congressman John M. Langston

John Mercer Langston, member of the United States House of Representatives.

An Arlington County highway named for the Confederate General Robert E. Lee may soon be renamed for John M. Langston, an abolitionist and Virginia’s first Black congressman. After a year-long process, the Arlington County Board is set to vote on the issue soon. The road was named “Lee Highway” in the 1920’s, long after the eponymous former Confederate General lived in Arlington County. The County recently renamed another highway once named for former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. John M. Langston was one of five African Americans elected to congress during the Jim Crow era, and would be one of the last Black congressmen elected from the southern United States until 1972, after the Voting Rights Act was passed.

Committee Recommends Name Change for “Dixie State University”

As reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education, a committee at Dixie State University recommended the institution change its name to Utah Polytechnic State University. The move follows recent debates across the nation, including Washington and Lee University’s decision to keep its name amid student, faculty, and alumni initiated requests to change it. The article discusses the support and opposition to the measure in Utah, a state not typically associated with the American south.

About Names: “History of name Simon not as simple as it seems”

A statue of El Libertador, Simón Bolivar, in Paris

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his July 4th column, he looks at the history of the name Simon.

Tuesday we can join Simon again in the World of Mages.

“Any Way the Wind Blows”, the third book in Nebraska author Rainbow Rowell’s young adult series about young mage Simon Snow, will be released July 6. It promises to “tell secrets, answer questions, and lay ghosts to rest.”

Simon was originally a Greek name meaning “flat-nosed.” It was used in first-century Palestine as the Greek form of Hebrew Shim’on, “he has heard,” a common name among Jews. Nine Simons are found in the New Testament, including apostle Simon the Zealot; Simon of Cyrene, who carried Jesus’ cross; and Simon Peter, later the first Pope.

In England, the name’s fame was reinforced by Simon Stock (1165-1265), a Carmelite monk whose visions of the Virgin Mary earned him veneration as a saint.

Simon ranked 13th in England around 1380, leading to Sims, Simpson, Symonds, etc., being common surnames.

Last T.C. Williams High School Class Celebrates Graduation, New Name

TC Williams High School from King Street (Photo by Addisnog, CC-BY-4.0)

Next year, “Alexandria City High School” will grace the diplomas of graduates from the former “T.C. Williams High School”. The school was named for former superintendent Thomas Chambliss Williams, a fervent segregationist who argued against integrating Alexandria public schools. Students petitioned for a name change and were successful this academic year. The school is most recently famous for the motion picture Remember the Titans, which featured a dramatized version of the school district’s integration efforts as they impacted the lives of the students.

Call for Papers: ANS 2022, Online, 21-23 January 2022

The American Name Society is now inviting proposals for papers for its next annual conference. After serious deliberation of an official proposal made on the 5th of May 2021, the Executive Council of the American Name Society unanimously voted to hold the 2022 Annual Conference online. All presentation sessions will be held online during the three days of the conference. This means that our conference will NOT be held in conjunction with the LSA meeting, which is still slated to be held in person, January 2022 in Washington, DC.

Abstracts in any area of onomastic research are welcome. The DEADLINE for receipt of abstracts is July 31, 2021. To submit a proposal, simply complete the 2022 Author Information Sheet (AIS) found here:


Please email this completed form to ANS Vice President Luisa Caiazzo using the following address: <luisa.caiazzo@unibas.it>. For organizational purposes, please be sure to include the phrase “ANS 2022” in the subject line of your email.
All proposals will be subjected to blind review. Official notification of proposal acceptances will be sent on or before September 30, 2021. All authors whose papers have been accepted must be current members of the ANS. Please feel free to contact ANS Vice President, Luisa Caiazzo, <luisa.caiazzo@unibas.it>, should you have any questions or concerns.

A downloadable PDF of the Call for Papers can be found here.

We look forward to receiving your submission!

Candy Brands Fight to Retain Trademarks and Brand Names as States Legalize Recreational Cannabis

While the doppelgangers might not appear in the same aisle (or even the same local grocer), THC infused candies stylized like their popular non-THC infused equivalents are sweeping the markets in states that have legalized recreational cannabis. An article in The New York Times features images of two packages of Skittles, virtually identical save for a series of small cannabis leaves across the package. One is product of Mars Wrigley and the other a THC infused imposter.

Read more about efforts to protect trademarks and brand names, with a few interesting perspectives shared throughout, over at The New York Times.

Howard University College of Fine Arts to be Named After Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman at the Deauville Film Festival in 2014 (Photo by Georges Biard, CC-BY-3.0)

Howard University announced that it will name its College of Fine Arts after actor and alumnus Chadwick Boseman.An article in The New York Times quotes Dean Phylicia Rashad’s comments regarding Mr. Boseman: “Unrelenting in his pursuit of excellence, Chadwick was possessed with a passion for inquiry and a determination to tell stories — through acting, writing and directing — that revealed the beauty and complexity of our human spirit.”

Read more about the naming here.

Behind the Name: “Supermoon” is a Catchier Name for “Perigee Syzygy”

A Supermoon behind Cerro Armazones mountain in Chile (Photo by G.Hüdepohl (atacamaphoto.com)/ESO, CC-BY-4.0)

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reviews the phenomenon called “perigee syzygy”, better known as the “Supermoon”. Jo Craven McGinty discusses the origins of the popular term supermoon: “Richard Nolle invented the neologism for an article published in Dell Horoscope magazine in 1979. It captured the imagination of the public and—perhaps adding insult to injury—eclipsed the technical term for the event.”

Read more about the phenomenon and when to see it at The Wall Street Journal.

University of Illinois at Chicago will Rename Law School, Dropping “John Marshall” Name

Citing the former Chief Justice’s racist views and history as a slave owner and trader, the University of Illinois at Chicago will rename its Law School, dropping the name “John Marshall”. The Chicago Tribune reports that “trustees’ vote Thursday followed a monthslong review by a university task force, which voted 6-1 to remove Marshall’s name. The law school faculty and faculty senate also voted in favor of renaming the school, which is separate from the University of Illinois College of Law in Urbana.”

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.