With initial funding from MBF through its Monarch Butterfly Flight Challenge, a group of engineers and biologists from the University of Michigan is developing a remarkable system for determining the daily flight path of migrating monarchs. This group has made a tiny solar-powered sensor – so small that it is only one-tenth the weight of an adult monarch and equal to the weight of a flake of uncooked oatmeal – and when a sensor is attached to the back (dorsal thorax) of a butterfly, it records time, temperature, and light each day wherever the butterfly is located. Thus, when a sensor-bearing monarch is in range of a detector at the end of the migration, the data from the monarch’s migratory path can be downloaded and its location determined for each day.
We are excited about what this system can tell us about monarch migration and its implications for improving our conservation efforts, and we are delighted that the Flight Challenge spurred development of this new technology.
The abstract of the group’s newest publication is accessible by clicking HERE.