| Tom Turpin
Dogs, Cats and Insects have Common
According to my dictionary, a name is the title by which a person or
thing is known or designated. As a part of speech, names are nouns. And
nouns, well, my dictionary says that they are names. Not surprising, I
suppose, since the word noun is derived from the Latin nomen, meaning
Everything has a name. That is so we can talk about it. Think how difficult
language would be if things didn't have names. We would have to reference
everything in descriptive terms. For example, most people live in a structure
for human habitation, which is fixed in place and intended for the private
occupation of a family or families. It's a lot easier to say "house."
People have learned to associate all kinds of things with names over
time. A barn has a different odor than a factory or a house--not because
barns have different odors than other structures, but because of what
we do in those structures.
Those mental images associated with names may or may not be related to
the words that we use for the names. That is what old Bill Shakespeare
had in mind when, in "Romeo and Juliet," he wrote, "What's
in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as
Living things also have names. There are dogs, cats, mice and all other
kinds of living animals. The word "dog" is what scientists call
a common name. Common names are widely used by the general population
Sometimes, more that one common name for the same animal exists. So,
to eliminate the confusion associated with more than one name, scientists
give living creatures a scientific name. This name has two parts, based
on the genus and species names of the animal. Dogs belong to the genus
Canis, which also includes wolves and coyotes. Dogs, however, are classified
in the species familaris. Wolves are in another species, nubilus. So the
scientific name of your pet dog is Canis familaris.
Many insects have common names. In fact, most insects have more than
one common name. Some people call the light-producing beetles fireflies.
Other people refer to these insects as lightning bugs. In Europe, the
same insect is called a glowworm. Some people know a dragonfly as a snake
doctor or the devil's darning needle. Dung beetles are called tumblebugs
by some people.
So widely used are insect common names that the Entomological Society
of America has an official common names list. There are hundreds of insects
listed. Recently some names were added to the list, including, the Fivespotted
gamagrass leafhopper, the Omnivorous leafroller, the Salt Creek tiger
beetle and that new pest of soybeans, the Soybean aphid. While these names
may seem a bit cumbersome to use, they are not as difficult as the scientific
names. The Soybean aphid is scientifically known as Aphis glycines and
the Omnivorous leafroller as Platynota stultana.
In case you were wondering, eight new insect names are being considered
for the common names list. The insects nominated include Anoplophora glabripennis,
Compasus auricephalus and Zopherus nodulosus haldemani. The proposed common
names for these insects are Asian longhorned beetle, the goldenheaded
weevil and the southwestern ironclad beetle. I didn't say the common names
were shorter, but they are easier to remember!