She was last seen in 1956 in the White Mountains of south-central New Mexico. But apparently this rarest of American bumblebees still has her own tiny, humble little home on our planet, where she’s happily helping to pollinate summer flowers.
A new sighting [of three specimens, ‘collected on roadside weeds’ – which always makes you wonder how?] occured on August 31, as researchers of the University of California Riverside reported yesterday. That happened close to the town of Cloudcroft, where early in the 20th century 16 more of the bumblebees had been seen.
Officially Cockerell’s Bumblebee is not just the rarest bumblebee species of the US, but of the entire world. That is not so much down to very limited numbers of ever-spotted specimens, but also because the range of her habitat is thought to be exceptionally small.
Whereas for instance sightings of the (also very) rare Franklin’s Bumblebee happened over a range of some 13,000 square miles, all ever Cockerell’s Bumblebees sightings were confined to an area of just 300 square miles.
Of course with any small-numbered rediscovery concerns of a possible extinction remain. Especially since other native US bumblebees seem to suffer from CCD just like honeybees.
So if you ever go to the New Mexico White Mountains be sure to wear some flowers in your hair – and please don’t drive too fast.
© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org