Scientists rename 'murder hornet' to soften perception

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Scientists rename “murder hornet” to soften perception

In order to limit the fear and the risk of stigmatization of certain species of hornets posed by their common names, entomologists have decided to rename them.

The Entomological Society of America and the Entomological Society of Canada have revised the common name given to the species Vespa mandariniain order to lessen the fear it arouses. The “murder hornet” thus becomes the “giant northern hornet”.

Native to Asia, the invasive species is occasionally seen in British Columbia and Washington State , in the United States, since 2019. It feeds on small insects and can wreak havoc in honey bee colonies.

The body of the insect can reach five centimeters and its wings spread out four to seven centimeters. Although the northern giant hornet rarely attacks humans, its bite can be painful, in addition to causing swelling and redness, in particular.

  • A distinct bee alarm against the dreaded giant hornets

  • Bees use droppings to defend themselves against hornets

According to the American entomologist behind the name change, Chris Looney, it was important to change the way we talk about the insect in question.

To establish the hornet's new identity, the Entomological Society of America relied on new standards for assigning common names to insects. These prohibit in particular any reference to an origin or an ethnic group, as well as the use of names that can stir up fear.

Considering the resurgence of hate crimes and discrimination against people of Asian origin, the use of the adjective "Asian" in the name of an invasive insect could fuel anti-Asian sentiment, the company notes in its statement.

Also under these new rules, American and Canadian entomologists have also renamed two other hornet species. Thus, the Vespa soror species becomes the southern giant hornet, while the Vespa velutina species becomes the “yellow-legged hornet”.

With show infoDaybreak South

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