The rusty patched bumblebee is finally getting the attention it deserves. It's the first bumblebee in the United States to be listed as endangered.
The bee is one of the pollinators experiencing serious declines across the country, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Why is this important? Pollinators are small but mighty parts of the natural mechanism that sustains us and our world," Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius said in a statement Tuesday. "Without them, our forests, parks, meadows and shrub lands, and the abundant, vibrant life they support, cannot survive, and our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand."
Since the late '90s, the rusty patched bumblebee population has fallen by 87 percent, leaving tiny, scattered populations in 13 states and one province, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Some possible causes for the bee's decline include disease, parasites, pesticides and climate change.
People who want to do their part to help aid the bumblebee's survival are encouraged to plant native flowers (even in cities) using any variety that will bloom from spring through fall.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service also suggests people limit or avoid use of pesticides entirely. People should also allow grass and garden plants to grow after summer to provide a habitat for overwintering bees.
The rusty patched bumblebee joins seven species of yellow-faced bees native to Hawaii that were given endangered status by the US Fish and Wildlife Service last year.