The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Half of Michigan's Bumblebee Species in Decline, One Extinct
Honeybees get a lot of attention for their worrisome decline, but many species of bumblebees—which are key pollinators—are also in trouble.
In Michigan, half of its bumblebee species have declined by 50 percent or more, Michigan Radio reported.
"Of those twelve species, about half of them have declined and the other half are stable," Thomas Wood, a post-doctoral research associate at Michigan State University, told the radio station.
Of the six species that have declined, their numbers dropped by more than 50 percent, Wood added. One species, the rusty patched bumblebee, has even gone extinct in Michigan.
In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified the rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species, the first bumblebee in the country and the first wild bee of any kind in the continental U.S. to receive Endangered Species Act protection.
The bee, identified by its reddish abdomen, was once common and abundant across 28 states from Connecticut to South Dakota, the District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces, but its population plummeted by 87 percent since the late 1990s.
There are many factors tied to Michigan's disappearing bumblebees, Michigan Radio reported, including loss of flowers, destruction of prairie and wooded areas that provide habitat for insects, as well as a controversial class of insecticides called neonicotinoids that have been linked to bee deaths around the world.
Neonicotinoids are "acutely toxic to bees and they're used in agriculture. Almost all the corn that's planted in Michigan, and in the Midwest more generally, is treated with these insecticides," Wood explained.
Because of their big, fluffy bodies and unique buzz pollination abilities (where their wing muscles vibrate a flower to release pollen), bumblebees can be more efficient than honeybees in pollinating a variety of fruit and vegetable crops.
"Bumblebees are especially good pollinators; even plants that can self-pollinate produce more and bigger fruit when pollinated by bumblebees," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. "Each year, insects, mostly bees, provide pollination services valued at an estimated $3 billion in the United States."
The good news is we can help the humble bumblebee's survival. The National Wildlife Federation provides several tips in this blog post, including planting native plants and eliminating the use of pesticides.
- Most Diverse Butterfly Center in the U.S. to be Bulldozed for Trump's ... ›
- Glyphosate Could Be Factor in Bee Decline, Study Warns - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Corporations that flouted environmental regulations and spewed pollutants into the air and dumped them into waterways will not be required to pay the fines they agreed to during the pandemic, according to The Guardian.
- Cost of Polluter Penalties at 20-Year-Low Under Trump's EPA ... ›
- Penalties Against Polluters Drop 60% Under Trump - EcoWatch ›
- Oil Companies Were Not Held Accountable for 10.8 Million Gallons ... ›
By Hans Nicholas Jong
The Indonesian government has backed down from a decision to scrap its timber legality verification process for wood export, amid criticism from activists and the prospect of being shut out of the lucrative European market.
Viruses, pollution and warming ocean temperatures have plagued corals in recent years. The onslaught of abuse has caused mass bleaching events and threatened the long-term survival of many ocean species. While corals have little chance of surviving through a mass bleaching, a new study found that when corals turn a vibrant neon color, it's in a last-ditch effort to survive, as CBS News reported.
- Coral Reef Tipping Point: 'Near-Annual' Bleaching May Occur ... ›
- Coral in Crisis: Can Replanting Efforts Halt Reefs' Death Spiral ... ›
- 2020 Great Barrier Reef Bleaching Event Is Most Widespread to Date ›
During summer in central New York, residents often enjoy a refreshing dip in the region's peaceful lakes.
But sometimes swimming is off-limits because of algae blooms that can make people sick.
- Algal Blooms Can be Deadly to Your Dogs - EcoWatch ›
- Every Mississippi Beach Is Closed Due to Toxic Algae - EcoWatch ›
- Toxic Algal Blooms Connected to Climate Change and Industrial ... ›
More than 40 million doctors and nurses are in, and they are prescribing a green recovery from the economic devastation caused by the new coronavirus.
- A 'Green Stimulus' Could Battle Three Crises: Coronavirus ... ›
- German Business Leaders Call for Climate Action With COVID-19 ... ›
- Canadian Groups Fight for a Just Covid-19 Recovery - EcoWatch ›
The U.K. government has proposed delaying the annual international climate negotiations for a full year after its original date to November 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
By Jared Kaufman
Upcycled food is now an officially defined term, which advocates say will encourage broader consumer and industry support for products that help reduce food waste. Upcycling—transforming ingredients that would have been wasted into edible food products—has been gaining ground in alternative food movements for several years but had never been officially defined.
- Chefs Are Going Back to Their Roots for Local, Sustainable Foraged ... ›
- This Montreal Company Turns Juice Pulp Into Food - EcoWatch ›