Friday, March 4, 2022

'Spongy Moth' Adopted as New Common Name for Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)

Translation of French name based on destructive forest pest's sponge-like egg masses

March 2, 2022—"Spongy moth" has been formally adopted as the new common name for the gypsy moth species Lymantria dispar by the Entomological Society of America.

The Entomological Society of America (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.

"Lymantria dispar is a damaging pest in North American forests, and public awareness is critical in slowing its spread. '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 out-dated term that was previously used," says ESA President Jessica Ware, Ph.D. "We are grateful to the diverse community of people and organizations who have been involved in this renaming process and have committed to adopting 'spongy moth' as well."

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. A primary way the spongy moth spreads is via these egg masses when transported on firewood, outdoor equipment, and vehicles. Public awareness of the L. dispar egg mass and its sponge-like appearance is important in controlling the pest, as the insect spends most of its life cycle (10 months) in the egg stage.

Through its addition to the ESA Common Names List, "spongy moth" will now be adopted for use in articles published in ESA's scientific journals and in presentations and posters at ESA conferences, as well as in ESA's website, social media, and public policy documents.

ESA encourages other organizations and individuals who work in research or management of Lymantria dispar to transition to the use of "spongy moth" in communications, documents, and publications as time and resources allow in coming months and years. The Better Common Names Project has published a toolkit for adopting the new name, with recommendations, frequently asked questions, and a flyer for raising public awareness.

"'Spongy moth' is already beginning to appear in media stories and other online resources, which we're excited to see. But we know this name change won't happen overnight," Ware says. "Particularly in books or print products, or regulations related to L. dispar, phasing in use of the new name may take some time. ESA will continue to provide supporting resources for organizations adopting this change."

The name "spongy moth" was recommended by a working group that included more than 50 scientists and professionals who work in research or forest management settings in both the United States and Canada, as well as Romani scholars working on human rights issues. The group gathered name suggestions and additional input from a broad array of interested individuals and organizations, including entomologists, forestry professionals, federal agencies, state departments of agriculture and natural resources, conservation groups, pest control and plant protection organizations, and Romani people. More than 200 name proposals were evaluated, and a list of seven finalist names was shared with these groups for consideration, with more than 1,000 responses received. "Spongy moth" was put forth for a two-week comment period beginning January 25, and comments were reviewed by the ESA Common Names Committee and ESA Governing Board prior to final approval.

Monday, January 24, 2022

PDA Lifts Black Walnut Thousand Cankers Quarantine

Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced that the department has lifted a quarantine in place since August 2014, because Thousand Cankers Disease no longer threatens Pennsylvania’s black walnut trees. Pennsylvania leads the nation in production and exports of hardwood lumber, and the disease was once thought to be a significant threat to the state’s $36 billion hardwoods industry.

“Quarantines are excellent tools to help protect our agriculture industry and our economy from disease and pests,” said Sec. Redding. “When science demonstrates that the disease is no longer a threat, restrictions on commerce are no longer necessary. We remain vigilant against invasive species and disease threats, but the quarantine as a tool has done its job.”

Thousand Cankers Disease is caused when walnut twig beetles, which carry a fungus called Geosmithia morbida, tunnel beneath the bark of walnut trees, causing small cankers to form.  Over time, repeated beetle attacks and resulting cankers disrupt the movement of water and nutrients throughout the tree, causing branches and limbs to die and eventually killing the tree.

Several peer-reviewed, published research studies have shown that despite the presence of the beetles and fungus, native black walnuts in Pennsylvania have been largely unaffected by the disease. Black walnut constitutes about one percent of Pennsylvania’s hardwood forests and is highly sought after for furniture and other valuable products, as well as the nuts it produces.

Efforts to control walnut twig beetles using parasitic wasps are still underway and the department will continue to monitor the presence of the insects, fungus and disease in Pennsylvania.

The quarantine restricted movement of materials from walnut trees, living or dead, including nursery stock, green lumber and firewood, as well as roots, branches, mulch and other debris. It applied to Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Affected businesses in those counties will be notified of the action this month.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture also issued a quarantine in 2007 prohibiting the movement of firewood of all types and species into Pennsylvania unless it is labeled as "kiln-dried" and/or is USDA-certified. This quarantine, still in effect, is designed to help slow the spread of nonnative, invasive forest pests and diseases that are often moved long distances hidden in firewood.

Campers and homeowners can help protect Pennsylvania's urban, suburban and forested areas from nonnative invasive forest pests and diseases by the following:

             Buy and burn locally cut firewood,

             Burn any firewood already brought from another area. Don’t leave it behind or take it with you.

The repealed Thousand CankerDisease quarantine order can be found in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

New NOAA State by State Climate Summaries

NOAA has released a set of new climate summaries for each state. Their website says: “The State Climate Summaries spell out recent local conditions for each state and provide insights about the state’s climate outlook based on historical trends.”

The State Climate Summaries provided here were initially produced to meet the demand for state-level climate information in the wake of the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment. This 2022 version provides new information and extends the historical climate record to 2020 for each state. The summaries cover assessment topics directly related to NOAA’s mission, specifically historical climate variations and trends, future climate model projections of climate conditions during the 21st century, and past and future conditions of sea level and coastal flooding. Additional background information and links are given.

Searchable state information can be found at:   

These are worth your time looking at your state and bookmarking your state’s page. They are also good reference documents if you need a quick source of climate information in summary form for your state.