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Newest U.S. stamps recognize pollinators

Mary Pickels
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United States Postal Service
A western honeybee pollinates a New England Aster, one of several USPS Protect Pollinators Forever stamps released on Aug. 3.
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United States Postal Service
A Monarch butterfly appears on one of several USPS Protect Pollinators Forever stamps released on Aug. 3.

Two of the continent’s most iconic pollinators, the monarch butterfly and the western honeybee, are being recognized with their own stamps this week, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

The stamps pay tribute to pollinators’ beauty and importance, and show the butterfly and honeybee industriously pollinating a variety of plants native to North America.

The Protect Pollinators Forever stamps were dedicated Aug. 3 at the American Philatelic Society National Summer Convention in Richmond, Va.

A bee buzzing around the patio might provoke anxiety, while a butterfly fluttering over the lawn inspires childlike wonder. But both of these insects are simply going about their business, providing the vital ecological service of pollination.

As with their fellow pollinators — other insects, birds and bats — they are rewarded with sweet nectar as they shuttle pollen from blossom to blossom. The plants are rewarded, too. They can then produce the seeds that bring their next generation. Humans also benefit. We can thank insect pollinators for about a third of the food that we eat, particularly many of the fruits and vegetables that add colorful variety and important nutrients to our diet.

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and western honeybees (Apis mellifera), also called European honeybees, are two of North America’s most iconic pollinators.

“Bees, butterflies and other pollinators sustain our ecosystem and are a vital natural resource. They are being threatened and we must protect them,” says U.S. Postal Service Judicial Officer Gary Shapiro, who dedicated the stamps.

“We’d like to thank the U.S. Postal Service, not only for supporting StampShow Richmond, but for bringing stamps that are sure to be a hit with collectors,” says Mick Zais, president of the American Philatelic Society.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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