Monday, March 14, 2016

Monarch News

There has been good and bad news on the monarch scene lately.  First there was the Monarch population status report that showed an increase in population for this year.  These estimates are based on the area that overwintering Monarchs cover in Mexico.  The statistics are graphed below but the methodology and details are best explained by in the Monarch watch blog
Area occupied by over-wintering Monarchs- Monarch Watch
Then came the news on March 11 of a "winter storm of historic proportions" which struck the overwintering area. When the Monarchs come down the mountain they don't usually return but instead begin their journey north. Since the initial report there has been no reports of the results of the storm.

"It will never get off the ground!" - REK
Now there is news of an incredible new technology. You are now familiar with the technology of radio transmitters such as that which allows us to track the movements of individual bears in Missouri. These are large boxes attached with a heavy leather collar, not a problem for a large bear to haul around. Now this technology has been miniaturized to fit on a Monarch! In this report from National Geographic you can see a Monarch being fitted with the transmitter which weighs .007 of an ounce. This is approximately the weight of 3 postage stamps.
“The best moment was when the first butterfly with the tag took off and landed on a flower and foraged, and then really flew with the tag. Initially it is a little hard because they have a little weight that they have to get adjusted to, but then when they fly off, it’s like a launch of a satellite,” Wikelski says. “It’s so amazing because we didn’t know if it would work, and now we know that they fly with the tag and we can follow them, so this is really an amazing advancement in science and understanding of these insects.”
I suspect our black bears will refuse to wear their old collars when they hear of this technological breakthrough.

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