We all know that pollinators are in trouble, but one (super cute) endangered species is in BIG trouble in Montana. There's a particular bumble bee that is cartoonishly adorable, but it's also on the 'critically endangered' list.

Suckley’s Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus suckleyi) is the fuzzy cutie we're concerned with here. Sometimes you'll spot one that is clumsily large, flying around as if they're under the influence. AZ Animals says:

Easily recognizable as a bumble bee, these humble black and yellow flying pollinators are essential for life on our planet. Suckley’s cuckoo bumble bees are Critically Endangered, with a decreasing population in Montana. These animals that are endangered and living in Montana are affected by development, climate change, pollution, and disease.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the definition of critically endangered is: "A species considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild." All species of life falls into one of eight categories in terms of how threatened it is. Of course, some species are not threatened at all. Others have become extinct. These are the various categories:

  • LC - Least Concern
  • NT - Near Threatened
  • VU - Vulnerable
  • EN - Endangered
  • CE - Critically Endangered
  • EW - Extinct in the Wild
  • EX - Extinct
  • DD - Data Deficient

The International Union for Conservation of Nature maintains a global roundup of animals, plants, and fungi and tells us whether a given species still exists and the likelihood of that species becoming extinct in the future.

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Not everything about this particular bumble bee is charming - it's known as a parasitic bumble bee. What on earth does that mean? It means that it's lazy and invades the nests of other kinds of bumble bees "and relies on host species workers to provision its larvae." (Lazy is just my opinion.) But they're still cute. And important.


To be fair, the Field Guide Montana has some confusing wording regarding our bumble bee friend. They call it a Species of Concern. "Designation as a Montana Species of Concern or Potential Species of Concern is based on the Montana Status Rank, and is not a statutory or regulatory classification." But the State Rank of this species is S1, which is defined as:

"At high risk because of extremely limited and/or rapidly declining population numbers, range and/or habitat, making it highly vulnerable to global extinction or extirpation in the state." The U.S. Fish & Wildlife service has the listing status 'under review'. In any case, the situation is not good for this particular bee or many other crucial pollinators.

Photo by Proinsias Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash
Photo by Proinsias Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

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