Yesterday, we received word from the Entomological Society of America that the ant, Forelius pruinosus, now officially has a common name: the high noon ant!
Our quest to help Forelius pruinosus, a very common North American ant with a big personality but NO common name began last February. While working on her Book of Common Ants, Dr. Eleanor felt sorry for these little ladies. Forelius pruinosus lacked the name-pizzazz of other common species; it desperately needed a more interesting and descriptive moniker to bring it into the same league as the big-headed ant, carpenter ant, and thief ant.
Throughout the spring of 2013, we solicited your suggestions on our blog and in-person during outreach events at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. And WOW! The suggestions really rolled in — We were so impressed by your creativity and enthusiasm, particularly from all the budding young myrmecologists in our midst. With the help of a few ant experts, we narrowed your numerous suggestions to four finalists that we thought best reflected the behavior and natural history of the species. And then, in the spirit of democracy, we put it to a vote.
And the people spoke. The high noon ant was our clear common name contest winner. But we couldn’t just declare it so.
Entomologists take insect names (both common and scientific) pretty seriously, and we wanted to respect the official naming process. So on May 10, we officially submitted our common name proposal to the Entomological Society of America (ESA) Committee on the Common Names of Insects.
First, the Common Names Committee had to give “high noon ant” the thumbs up. They did on July 15. Then, the full membership of the Entomological Society of America had to have an opportunity to weigh in during a 30-day comment period. No objections were raised so it went on to the ESA Governing Board. Yesterday, we learned the Board gave the high noon ant the OFFICIAL stamp-of-approval at their meeting on November 9, and the name was posted in the common names database on November 19.
So go ahead. Check out the common names database yourself, type in “high noon ant,” and take pride in the fact that you helped make this happen!
Of course, our sweet success with Forelius pruinosus now begs the question – What common-nameless arthropod species should we help next?
**Special shout-out to Seth Burgess for designing the snazzy announcement poster to accompany the high noon ant’s snazzy new name.**