The rusty patched bumble bee … was listed on [Jan. 10] as an endangered species, becoming the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain such federal protection.
One of several species facing sharp declines, the bumble bee known to scientists as Bombus affinis has plunged nearly 90 percent in abundance and distribution since the late 1990s, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The agency listed the insect after determining it to be in danger of extinction across all or portions of its range, attributing its decline to a mix of factors, including disease, pesticides, climate change and habitat loss.
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Government scientists point to a certain class of pesticides called neonicotinoids — widely used on crops, lawns, gardens and forests — as posing a particular threat to bees because they are absorbed into a plant’s entire system, including leaf tissue, nectar and pollen.
Bumble bee populations may be especially vulnerable to pesticides applied early in the year because for one month an entire colony depends on the success of a solitary queen that emerges from winter dormancy, the wildlife service said.
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