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Watch a Monarch Butterfly Swarm (Filmed by a Drone Disguised as a Hummingbird)

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2020

For an upcoming episode of a show called Spy in the Wild, PBS’s Nature used a tiny drone disguised as a hummingbird to capture footage of a swarm of half a billion monarch butterflies as they overwinter in Mexico. The butterflies pay the hummingbird robot little mind:

Hummingbird Drone

The monarch butterfly is under increasing pressure due to habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change, driving down their population.

The current state of the smaller western population of monarchs that overwinter in California is more dire than their eastern counterparts. The western population crashed by 99% in the latest count, reaching a historic low of fewer than 30,000 butterflies for the second year in a row, down from 1.2 million two decades ago.

Both butterfly populations are below the threshold at which government scientists predict the migrations could collapse. Federal scientists estimate there is nearly a 60% chance the monarch’s spectacular, multigenerational migration in the eastern half of the country could completely collapse within the next 20 years.

(via @MachinePix)