Fortunately, Mother Nature has equipped them with everything they need to find their way. Like migratory birds, monarch butterflies use the position of the sun to calculate where they should be going (a ‘sun compass’) . But the sun is a moving target—so how do they stay oriented as the sun moves across the sky? Monarchs also possess an internal circadian clock which adjusts their calculations as the sun's position changes throughout the day.
It had long been assumed that both mechanisms resided in the brain, but recent research has found that this isn’t the case. A monarch’s antennae are truly amazing high-tech multitools—sensing scents, sounds and wind direction. In addition, we now know that the clock which guides their sun compass also resides in the antennae.
Author: Lisa Schneider
Photo credit: Istock