(Reuters) A North American bumblebee species that all but vanished from about half of its natural range has re-emerged in Washington state, delighting scientists who voiced optimism the insect might eventually make a recovery in the Pacific Northwest.

Entomologists and bee enthusiasts in recent weeks have photographed several specimens of the long-absent western bumblebee – known to scientists as Bombus occidentalis – buzzing among flower blossoms in a suburban park north of Seattle.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Rich Hatfield, a biologist for the Oregon-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which documents and reports such findings.

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