New Great Plains Bumble Bee Atlas launched. Pesticides may make male bees less attractive. Can art help save the insect world?
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Photo: Sarah Hamilton Buxton, Xerces Society
(Xerces Society) With pollinator declines accelerating, a new project has launched that provides an opportunity for people in Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota to take action to conserve bumble bees. The Great Plains Bumble Bee Atlas – a partnership between the Xerces Society and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – will improve scientists’ understanding of the bumble bees of the upper Great Plains and provide land managers with the information they need to conserve them.
(Público, translated from Portuguese) Counting butterflies is essential for assessing their conservation status. In three years of a citizen-science project in mainland Portugal, almost 30,000 butterflies were seen across the country – another 10,000 sighted in Madeira since last summer. Many butterflies are threatened and at risk of extinction – and climate change exacerbates the problem.
(Grist) State regulators shuttered the AltEn plant in 2021 after years of environmental violations. Residents are just beginning to grapple with its toxic legacy.
Photo: Nicole Beyer
(University of Göttingen) Pollination by insects is essential for the production of many food crops. The presence of pollinators, such as bees, depends on the availability of nesting sites and sufficient food. If these conditions are lacking, the pollinators also fail to appear and the yield of flowering arable crops, such as broad beans or oilseed rape, suffers as well. A team has investigated how the composition of flowering crops and semi-natural habitats in the landscape affects the density of bees, their behavior when collecting nectar, and faba bean yields.
(The Conversation) When temperatures soared above 42° C for days in Western Canada in June 2021, humans weren’t the only ones affected by the extreme heat. Beekeepers reported unusual deaths of honey bee queens, drones and small colonies. Worryingly, male fertility also likely begins to decline well before the drones die.
(Miami Herald) A member of the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association in Georgia, a nonprofit organization that “supports an active beekeeping community,” said it received a call from a “desperate Alaska beekeeper” after 200 packages of his bees were stuck on the tarmac at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
(CBC) Beekeepers across the Canadian province are reporting major losses of up to 90% of their colonies, according to the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association. The problem is so significant that the association president is concerned it could affect not just honey producers, but also fruit growers in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
Photo: Zach Portman, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
(Center for Biological Diversity) In response to three lawsuits brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to dates for decisions on whether 18 plants and animals from across the country warrant protection as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service will also consider identifying and protecting critical habitat for another nine species. Monarch butterflies will have to wait until fiscal year 2024. The Mojave poppy bee will get a decision in 2026.
(Cornell CALS) A survey has found that endangered and threatened insects and spiders, as well as common species that provide valuable ecological services, can be easily purchased – without adequate oversight – through basic internet searches.
Photo: legolas1, iNaturalist
(ScienceDaily, University of Würzburg) Female mason bees evaluate male quality signals when choosing a mating partner – most importantly their odor and thoracic vibrations. Recent research has shown that male mason bees exposed to a low-toxicity fungicide were more likely to be rejected by females. “We also found that the pesticide-exposed males vibrate their thoracic muscle less and also had a different odor composition than the un-exposed males.”
(Montana State University) In 2009, Casey Delphia, a member of the Montana State University research community working on bee ecology and as an associate curator for the Montana Entomology Collection, went on her first-ever overseas specimen collecting trip to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Twelve years later, Delphia found out she actually collected a completely new species of sweat bee on that trip.
(Wired, from February) Some animals and plants are rapidly adapting to our warming, polluted world. How alarming that is depends on your perspective.
Photo: Levon Biss
(New York Times) A renowned photographer who hopes to persuade humans to love their insect brethren has teamed with scientists on a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History. The show will highlight 40 insects, some of which are already extinct and others that are considered imperiled, including some that are being raised in labs so they can be returned to the wild.
(ScienceDaily, University of Exeter) New research suggests that wildlife watchers generally welcome species that have arrived in the U.K. due to climate change – although this welcome was cooler in the case of insects and species that participants weren’t familiar with.
(Twitter, Denali National Park @DenaliNPS) “What’s all the buzz about? How about knowing you have the ability to identify ALL the 22 bumble bee species known in Alaska!?! A field guide is available to download on our website now. Get those field ID skills ready!”
(Twitter, iBartomeus @ibartomeus) “Do you want to recognise the Spanish Bumblebees? We have the definitive field guide for you!”
(University of Wyoming) The University of Wyoming Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center will be all abuzz with the Bee Jubilee Sunday, May 1. The event is free and open to the public. Described as educational, kid-friendly and family fun, the Bee Jubilee includes a PBS documentary about bees, followed by a conversation with UW bee experts, and activities and crafts about bees including an opportunity to construct a bee hotel.
One More Thing…
From colinpurrington @colinpurrington via Twitter: “As a way to reduce residential pesticide use, I think the @EPA should fine retailers every time they feature harmless insects in ads. The cumulative effect is that homeowners believe the only safe yard is a 100% bug-free yard. I think that’s a March fly (Bibio albipennis?).”