Murder Hornets Are Getting A New Name To Avoid “Discrimination”
Same massive hornet, new name because scientists believe its old name could have sparked acts of discrimination.
This week, the Entomological Society of America formally renamed the Vespa mandarinia also known as the Asian giant hornet, or “murder hornets” as they’re more commonly called by the public, to "northern giant hornets."
Scientists say the decision to rename the hornet was born of an effort to prevent anti-Asian hate crimes.
In a statement, the Entomological Society of America said,
"Amid a rise in hate crimes and discrimination against people of Asian descent, usage of ‘Asian’ in the name of a pest insect can unintentionally bolster anti-Asian sentiment.”
Although the average person doesn’t refer to the terrifying insect by its former name of Asian giant hornet and instead called them “murder hornets,” the Entomological Society of America feared that there could be a stigma attached to the scientific name that would lead to the eruption of violence in the future toward Asians.
In 2021, the Entomological Society of America released a guideline for what names would be acceptable to use as common names for insects. Any names "referring to ethnic or racial groups and names that might stoke fear" were agreed on to be unacceptable.
Entomological Society of America president Jessica Ware, an entomologist, said, "Northern giant hornet is both scientifically accurate and easy to understand, and it avoids evoking fear or discrimination."
The massive two-inch hornet entered into the United States in 2019 but it was in 2020 that the general public was made aware of its existence when a photo made its rounds of its quarter-inch-long stinger.