In our latest Buzzword newsletter, we had an article about a species of bumblebee found in Argentina, Bombus dahlbomii. This species is under threat of extinction, possiibly because of competition for food, or diseases introduced by european Buff-tailed bumblebees, brought over for the pollination of crops.
Oneof our members, Maggie, got in touch to say that her son actually saw this species in Argentina in 2004, and she has sent this picture and text:
I was just reading the latest Buzzword [Issue 21] article by Dave Goulson, on the “Argentinian Invasion”. I’ve probably mentioned this before - my son was visiting Argentina in 2004, and knowing my love of bumbles, sent me a photo of a huge, amazing Bombus dahlbomii, that he’d often seen flying around and that were sometimes referred to locally as “flying mice”! And the tragedy now is that they are almost gone! Here we are trying our hardest to save our native bumbles from extinction and yet it is far too easy to get things wrong it seems. Perhaps we should be more careful here too, with garden magazines enthusing about the use B. terrestris audax in our own gardens, without too much thought or comment about the effect they may have on our own native bumbles, when rules are not followed about the possible effect of “escapees” - competition & spread of disease etc.
I absolutely agree with Dave’s last paragraph - “One lesson we can and must learn is that no matter how useful bumblebees are as pollinators, there should be no further releases of buff-tailed bumblebees or any other species in parts of the world where they do not naturally live.