Each fall the monarch butterfly travels thousands of miles to spend the winter in the forests on 12 mountaintops in central Mexico. The monarch migration is the most spectacular two-way migration carried out by an insect.
The forests provide unique microclimatic conditions that allow monarchs to survive the winter. Forest degradation is putting this amazing migration in peril.
The abundance of monarchs shows a discouraging downward trend over the past 20+ years. Click on the graph to enlarge and on this link to read how the numbers were obtained.
In the Spotlight
In 2017 the Monarch Butterfly Fund issued a public challenge to create a system that could track the flight of individual monarch butterflies on their migration. Dr. David Blaauw and his colleagues at the University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh have been working on developing tiny sensors that can be attached to individual monarchs and record information throughout their flights. They recently completed a paper on their development of a deep learning algorithm that can estimate a butterfly’s daily location by analyzing light and temperature sensor data continuously obtained from an ultra-low power, millimeter (mm)-scale sensor attached to the butterfly. With the help of 82 volunteers across the U.S., they have collected over 1500 days of real-world sensor data! Thanks to all of you who contributed to the challenge, MBF has been able to support this wonderful achievement!