Bees are responsible for pollinating most of the plants that require insect pollination to produce fruits, seeds and nuts. Like other bees, rusty patched bumblebees pollinate important crops such as tomatoes, cranberries and peppers.
It’s not just the rusty patched bumblebee that is struggling in the U.S. Other species have experienced dramatic declines in recent decades. The reduction is believed to be caused by a combination of habitat loss, disease, pesticide use, climate change and an extremely small population size.
The endangered designation is made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act for species at risk of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range.
Environmental groups praised the designation, including the group that originally petitioned for the listing in 2013, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation: “We are very pleased to see one of North America’s most imperiled species receive the protection it needs,” said Sarina Jepsen, director of endangered species for the group.