Oct
04
2009

Monarch migration research

Antennas key to navigating during migration

Monarch migration: The antenna is vital to navigating.
Monarch migration: The antenna is vital to navigating.Courtesy L-T-L

Ever wonder how monarch butterflies navigate. They use the sun you might say. The sun is constantly moving, though. Well, maybe a built in clock helps. How important are the eyes compared to the antennas?

To figure out what was important scientists dipped some antennas in clear varnish and some in black paint. The ones with clear varnish had no trouble navigating. The ones with black paint covering their antennas could not.

That not only showed the antennas were sensing light for navigating, it also showed that the sense of smell isn't involved in finding the way, since both paints blocked that ability. USA Today

Learn more monarch migration

The study was led by Dr. Steven M. Reppert, chairman of neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I urge you to visit his faculty web page which explains how his team is using anatomical, cellular, molecular, electrophysiological, genetic and behavioral approaches to more fully understand the biological basis of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) migration.
The incredible detail and depth of their research made me appreciate how understanding one little thing like butterfly migration can lead to better understanding how complex things like the human brain works. This recent paper published in science was titled, Antennal Circadian Clocks Coordinate Sun Compass Orientation in Migratory Monarch Butterflies.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I really like monarch butterflies. But I want to know how many muscles do they have?

posted on Mon, 11/09/2009 - 10:23am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Monarch butterflies - how many muscles do they have? Great question. I looked here but could not find an answer.
Questions about monarch butterflies

posted on Tue, 11/10/2009 - 12:24pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options