Legal Protection

Despite the importance of pollinators, there are few local, state, and federal laws protecting them. Depending on the jurisdictional oversight, protections afforded by listing as endangered or threatened or other category typically include protection from harassment or collection. Occasionally critical habitat is protected as well. The few protections that are in place include:



CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) is an international treaty whose signatory countries, including the U.S., work together to prevent international trade of vulnerable wildlife species. Currently, no species from the New York metropolitan region are protected by CITES, although butterflies from other regions of the U.S. are listed.


U.S. Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act authorizes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list endangered and threatened species, triggering protection measures. Currently, only a few pollinators from our region are listed, including the Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly (Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii) (considered extirpated from the New York metropolitan region) and the Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides Melissa samueli).



Connecticut recently listed the Macropis Cuckoo Bee (Epeoloides pilosula) as endangered and the Fringed Loosestrife Oil Bee (Macropis ciliata) as a species of special concern. Three bumble bees are also listed as species of special concern, without formal protection — the Affable Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis), Ashton’s Bumble Bee (Bombus ashtoni), and Yellowbanded Bumble Bee (Bombus terricola). Several butterfly and moth species are listed as threatened and/or endangered species in the state, affording them legal protection from harassment. Examples include the Northern Metalmark (Calephelis borealis), endangered; Hessel’s Hairstreak (Mitoura hesseli), endangered; and Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus), threatened.

New York

New York State has no protection for native bee species but does afford protection for a number of butterfly and moth species, including the Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia), Arogos Skipper (Atrytone arogos), Hessel’s Hairstreak (Mitoura hesseli), and Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus).

New Jersey

New Jersey has no protection for native bee species but does afford legal protection for a number of rare moth and butterfly species, such as the Arogos Skipper (Atrytone arogos) and Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus).


Pennsylvania has no protection for native bees, nor does it afford legal protection for any other pollinators. The Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia) is noted as a species of special concern, a category without legal standing.


Some protected areas have special regulations for pollinators in place, such as the Albany Pine Bush in New York State, which protects critical habitat for the federally protected Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis).