By now you probably know about the plight of America’s honeybees: the collapsed colonies and dying hives, threatening pollination services to crops and the future of a much-beloved insect.
But it’s not just honeybees that are in trouble. Many wild pollinators—thousands of species of bees and butterflies and moths—are also threatened. Their decline would affect not only our food supply, but our landscapes, too. Most honeybees live in commercially managed agricultural colonies; wild pollinators are caretakers of our everyday surroundings.
“Almost 90 percent of the world’s flowering species require insects or other animals for pollination,” said ecologist Laura Burkle of Montana State University. “That’s a lot of plants that need these adorable creatures for reproduction. And if we don’t have those plants, we have a pretty impoverished world.”
Compared to honeybees, wild pollinators are not well studied, and their condition has received relatively little public attention. Most people don’t realize that there are thousands of bee species in the United States. Even many butterflies are overlooked, with the plight of just a few species, particularly monarchs, widely recognized.