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After Population Plunge, Once Common Bumble Bee Officially Listed as Endangered

Bees around the world are dying in record numbers and, as a result, the bumblebee has now been placed on the endangered species list in the United States, Gizmodo reports. Bumblebees’ population has declined a whopping 90 percent since the early 1990s. While climate change and loss of habitat are partially to blame, experts believe that neonicotinoid pesticides are especially responsible.

Neonicotinoids are widely used in intensive agricultural operations, and wild foraging bees are three times more likely to be negatively affected by exposure to neonicotinoids than non-crop foragers. Scientists believe that about 50 percent of the total decline in wild bees is linked to the pesticides.

In addition to honeybees, bumblebees and wild bees, the use of neonicotinoids have been implicated in declines of butterflies, too. How does this happen? The majority of soybean, corn, canola and sunflower seeds planted in the U.S. are coated with neonicotinoids. The chemicals travel systemically through the plants and kill insects that munch on their roots and leaves. Butterflies and bees are affected because this poison is expressed in the nectar and pollen of the plants.

It’s extremely important that steps are taken to protect bees, butterflies and other pollinators. These creatures are necessary to help 80 percent of flowering plants reproduce and are involved in the production of one out of every three bites of food.

One way to take action is to demand that environmental officials take action and force manufacturers of neonicotinoids to stop producing them. At home, swap out toxic pesticide and lawn chemicals for organic weed and pest control alternatives. And speak with your pocketbook by shopping organic.
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