Willamette Valley prairie flower becomes Endangered Species Act success story

Image of Bradshaw's desert parsley.

(Center for Biological Diversity) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing Bradshaw’s desert parsley, a wet prairie wildflower, from the list of endangered species this week due to the plant’s successful recovery. Insects observed to pollinate this plant include some small native bees.

A little prairie can rescue honey bees from famine on the farm, study finds

Image of researchers in prairie surrounded by honey bees.

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) The researchers do not recommend that beekeepers move their hives to prairies. Remnant prairies are rare and too small for many hives, the researchers said. Overstocking with honey bees could negatively affect native bees. Instead, the team is testing an intervention that installs 5- to 8-acre strips of reconstructed prairie within or alongside agricultural fields.

Light pollution is key “bringer of insect apocalypse”

Image of insects swarming around light at night.

(The Guardian) “We strongly believe artificial light at night – in combination with habitat loss, chemical pollution, invasive species, and climate change – is driving insect declines,” the scientists concluded after assessing more than 150 studies. However, unlike other drivers of decline, light pollution is relatively easy to prevent by switching off unnecessary lights and using proper shades.

Pollinator friendliness can extend beyond early spring

Image of honey be on hyacinth.

(EurekAlert/American Society for Horticultural Science) “Establishing a season-long succession of flowers is critical in providing forage for pollinating insects throughout the growing season, which coincides with their life cycles. We observed pollinator activity on species of Crocus and Muscari from January to March, providing honey bees with pollen and nectar during normal times of severe food shortage.”

House panel advances bill to curb pesticides on wildlife refuges

Image of silhouette of bird and grass.

(Bloomberg Environment) The Protect Our Refuges Act of 2019 (H.R. 2854) would reinstate a 2014 ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in national wildlife refuges. The Trump administration’s Interior Department revoked the 2014 ban in August of 2018, citing the increased importance of genetically modified (GMO) seed crops, which often contain neonicotinoid seed coatings, for maintaining agricultural operations of wildlife preserves.

Butterfly on a bomb range: Endangered Species Act at work

Image of St. Francis Satyr butterfly on leaf.

(AP) As a 400-pound explosive resounds in the distance, a tiny St. Francis Satyr butterfly flits among the splotchy leaves, ready to lay as many as 100 eggs. One of Earth’s rarest butterfly species, there are maybe 3,000 St. Francis Satyrs. There are never going to be enough of them to get off the endangered species list, but they’re not about to go extinct either – thanks in great measure to the 46-year-old federal act.

When stuck in water, bees create a wave and hydrofoil atop it

Image of honey bee surfing in smooth water.

(Phys.org/California Institute of Technology) When a bee lands on water, the water sticks to its wings, robbing it of the ability to fly. However, that stickiness allows the bee to drag water, creating waves that propel it forward. The motion has never been documented in other insects and may represent a unique adaptation by bees. Editor: Check out the video of the bee in water.

A century later, plant biodiversity struggles in wake of agricultural abandonment

Aerial view of trees and fields.

(University of Minnesota) Researchers compared plots of abandoned farmland to nearby land that has not been significantly impacted by human activity. They found that one year after abandonment, the fields had, on average, 38 percent of the plant diversity and 34 percent of the plant productivity for the land that was never plowed; 91 years after abandonment, the fields still had only 73 percent of the plant diversity and 53 percent of the plant productivity.