In the early ’70s, there were a growing number of environmental groups working to conserve wildlife, but Robert Michael Pyle noted that they were all working to protect big animals, so he founded the Xerces Society, a nonprofit to protect butterflies, and then bees, dragonflies, and other insects and invertebrates that are, in biologist, theorist, naturalist and author E. O. Wilson’s words, “the little things that run the world.” In the nearly fifty years since, the Xerces Society has worked tirelessly to draw together experts from the fields of habitat restoration, entomology, plant ecology, community outreach, education, farming, and conservation biology in order to promote the conservation of bees and many other invertebrates. As a result, more than a million acres of new or improved habitat have been created, disappearing species such as the rusty patched bumble bee are protected, and legions of people are engaged in insect conservation. “Thanks to the passion and dedication of our supporters and staff, over the last half century the Xerces Society has grown from a small volunteer group to the nation’s leading authority on the conservation of bees, butterflies, and other invertebrates,” current executive director Scott Hoffman Black tells us.

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Image courtesy Xerces Society