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Food production at risk because climate crisis endangers butterflies and bees

Bees, butterflies and many bat species in the United States are in severe decline or listed as endangered. However, these creatures are all pollinators; without them, fruits, vegetables and other plants wouldn't be pollinated.

Ron Magill, the communications director and a wildlife expert at Zoo Miami, explains that some 30% of the food that ends up on our tables gets there because of things like butterflies, bees and bats. Apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli and almonds are among the foods most susceptible to the pollinator decline, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Bees, in particular, are responsible for pollinating around 90 commercially produced crops.

Also, the climate crisis has taken a toll on pollinators. While more intense and prolonged drought is the most obvious impact, a growing concern is the effect of extreme heat -- particularly on butterflies.

"Because butterflies are some of the most sensitive insects to changes in temperature, they are considered the 'canary in the coal mine' when it comes to climate change," Magill said.


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