And should probably brace themselves for a slew of complaints from angry stag beetle and ant farm owners.

Earth Chemical, a leading maker of pest control products and other household chemical goods, has announced a drastic change to the naming policy of their insecticides. Rather than using the standard name of “satchuzai” or “insecticides,” they will call them “mushi care yohin” or “insect care products.”

The reason for the switch is explained as the fact that many of the products in this category actually repel insects rather than kill them. In addition, the company feels the use of the Japanese prefix “satsu-,” which is equivalent to the English suffix “-icide,” has negative connotations unbefitting of what they want the brand’s image to be.

▼ The company’s website has already made the change

Although those aren’t necessarily bad motivations, the choice of “insect care” is a little bewildering to many. Even Earth Chemical admits the change will come at the expense of a higher level of safety from having a product which explicitly warns that it “kills” in the description.

Here is a sampling of the public response:

“It seems like some serious accidents could arise from confusing insect repellent and insecticide sprays.”
“How does it care for insects?”
“I like ‘insecticide.’ I’m comforted knowing that it kills bugs in my home.”
“We have to be PC for insects now too?”
“I get that ‘kill’ and ‘death’ are not good images for a company, but did they really think this through?”
“‘Insecticide’ is a good name, because it helps show children that it’s a product not to be played with.”
“Who was even complaining about this? The insects?”

In defense of Earth Chemical, they are correct that the current terminology of insect control products in Japan is a little strange. The two main types are said to be satchzai (insecticide) and bochuzai (insect repellent), but the literal English translations aren’t exactly congruent with Japanese usage.

Bochuzai usually refers to passive approaches at pest control, keeping insects out of places they never were in to begin with. Mothballs are prime examples of bochuzai. On the other hand, satchuzai not only includes products that kill insects, but repellents that one might use in an offensive way such as a bug spray while hiking through the woods or a mosquito coil during a barbecue. The satchuzai family also includes mechanical devices like flypaper that might not be strictly described as an “insecticide.”

Earth Chemical’s intentions here are indeed noble, but “insect care” is just way too far in the other direction and really doesn’t seem to solve the ambiguity of current classifications – particularly in Japan where the subtle nuances of the word “care” such as, “Hey Vinnie, did ya take care of that rat Joey yet?” are not as easily noticed. Earth Chemical says that they first consulted other companies in the industry, all of whom approved of their decision…and then, I presume, burst out into laughter after hanging up the phone.

It kind of makes me wonder if the International Vermin Convention (shown in the following commercial) signed off on this too. However, judging by the money member states must have dumped into those fancy holographic communication thingies, I seriously question the prudence of this institution.

Speaking of money, Earth Chemical says that the change in description will expand the insecticide/insect-care market by 10 billion yen (US$89.5M). They don’t really explain how that could possibly work, but they seem very confident.

While I wish them luck in this endeavor, I don’t think I can join the ride. Whenever a roach invades the sanctity of my home I immediately turn into Gary Oldman at the end of Leon: The Professional and turn to whatever promises me the most extreme prejudice in killing it.

Source: The Chemical Daily, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Earth Chemical