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Bumblebee Added to US Endangered Species List

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The rusty-patched bumblebee has been added to the US endangered species list. (Fish and Wildflife Service)
The rusty-patched bumblebee has been added to the US endangered species list. (Fish and Wildflife Service)

A small insect is getting a lot of attention in the United States.

The rusty patched bumblebee is the first of its species to be declared endangered in the lower 48 states -- meaning every state except Alaska and Hawaii.

The rusty patched bumblebee is named for a rust-colored line on its back.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service announced this month it was adding the bee to its endangered species list.

The insects are “on the brink of extinction,” according to the service. It said the bees were once found in 28 states. But there now are only small populations remaining in 13 states.

The government agency will make a plan to help the dying bees recover.

The agency said that such a plan might help other insects, like butterflies.

U.S. officials think land owners can take small steps to help the rusty patched bumble bee. They say land owners can be friendlier towards bees by using native plants in their gardens.

The insects directly fertilize many kinds of fruit and vegetable crops. And they fertilize grain crops used to feed cattle and milk cows. It costs billions of dollars to duplicate the job the bees do for free.

Volunteer Shaina Helsel prepares to capture a bumblebee on a field in Togus, Maine, July 10, 2015.
Volunteer Shaina Helsel prepares to capture a bumblebee on a field in Togus, Maine, July 10, 2015.

Land owners are also being urged to cut back on their use of pesticide products.

The officials also suggest that gardeners leave their plants alone at the end of the summer instead of cutting them. That way, the bees will have a place to live over the winter.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the rusty patched bumblebee was added to the endangered species list partly because of habitat loss. Other reasons were disease, pesticides and climate change.

Officials are worried that other bees will suffer, too. Another species of bees in Hawaii is also endangered.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a story by VOANews.com. George Grow was the editor.

Do you think the bees will recover? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

patch – n. a small place that is different from the surrounding area

species – n. animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants

extinction – n. the state or situation that results when something has died out completely

pesticide – n. a chemical that is used to kill creatures that damage plants or crops

habitat – n. the place where a plant or animal naturally or normally lives or grows

duplicate – v. to copy; to do something that is exactly the same as something else

garden – n. a place where fruits, flowers and other plants are grown

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