Monarch butterfly

A monarch butterfly feasts of swamp milkweed in Michigan. The loss of milkweed due to the spread of herbicide-resistant crops is seen as one of the reasons for the Monarchs’ decline. (USFWS Photo / Jim Hudgins)

Premier Residential CEO Eli Moreno has helped several startups take flight in Western Washington, but his latest venture focuses on flights of a different kind: the continent-spanning treks of Monarch butterflies.

Moreno is priming the pump for a $50,000 prize that’s aimed at encouraging the development of a high-tech system to track the butterflies as they migrate between Canada and his native Mexico.

“A thousand years from now, we want to be able to preserve these butterflies,” Moreno told GeekWire today.

That’s not a sure thing: Experts say the Monarch population has declined by 80 percent over the past two decades, primarily due to habitat loss, drought and insecticides.

Eli Moreno is a Mexico-born Tacoma entrepreneur who serves as CEO for Premier Residential, a company that focuses on property investments, acquisitions and management. (Photo Courtesy of Eli Moreno)

Tracing the precise routes taken by millions of Monarchs each year could help scientists figure out how best to protect them, but today’s methods are woefully low-tech. Researchers typically apply paper tags to the butterflies’ hind wings, and then hope that the tags are found on dead or captured Monarchs.

The nonprofit Monarch Butterfly Fund is offering a $50,000 cash prize to the team that comes up with the best concept for an e-tagging and tracking system capable of providing data at least once a day.

The instrument package should weigh less than 75 milligrams (0.0026 ounce), cost less than $5, and be suitable for attaching on butterflies without impeding their flight. The system should be able to transmit data via a cellphone network or other means in …read more

Source:: GeekWire

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