For the first time in American history, a bumble bee species has been placed on the endangered species list. It probably won’t be the last.

The rusty patched bumble bee was so prevalent 20 years ago that pedestrians in Midwest cities fought to shoo them away. Now, even trained scientists and experienced bee watchers find it difficult to lay eyes on them. “I’ve never seen one, and I live here pretty close to where there have been populations documented,” said Tamara Smith, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist stationed in Minneapolis.

Fearing that the striped black and yellow pollinator with a long black tail could be lost forever, Fish and Wildlife designated the animal as endangered Tuesday. The designation triggers protections such as regulations against knowingly destroying the bumble bee’s habitat and habitat creation. It also raises awareness about the plight of the bumble bee and requires a long-term recovery plan to restore its population.

The rusty patched bee was selected because of its former abundance and astonishing plummet.

The list of suspected causes for the disappearance, according to the agency, reads like an environmental most-wanted list: farm pesticides, household herbicides, human development, disease and climate change.