The murder hornet is breaking up with its killer name.
The Entomological Society of America said it plans to rebrand the species as the northern giant hornet, dropping all references to the pest previously known as the murder hornet or Asian giant hornet. The Washington State Department of Agriculture will adopt the change.
The state’s endorsement of the name change adds to the insect’s shift away from violence, as its first North American sighting was in Washington in 2019.
The new name — and the aka Vespa mandarinia — was hatched by state agriculture department entomologist Chris Looney, who has been deeply involved in research and eradication efforts, and furthers scientists’ goals to avoid referencing geographic regions in names, the state said.
The giant hornets now join other insects renamed as part of the Entomological Society of America’s “Better Common Names Project.”
“Problematic names perpetuate harm” against certain communities, the society said on its website, and rebranded bug names strive to be “respectful, inclusive and descriptive.”
“Using better common names will increase the effectiveness of communication with the public, enhance the reputation of entomology and entomologists, build a more inclusive discipline, and reduce harm to our members and non-members alike,” the society said.