Guanajuato, Mexico - Monarch butterfly record-keeping is going high tech in Guanajuato with the development of a mobile app to record sightings.
MonarcaMX is designed to give volunteers and environmental authorities real-time data about the presence of the migratory insect in the state.
"Before... we gathered information on a piece of paper and then mapped it and traced the route," said David Guzmán González, the natural protected areas coordinator of the state's Institute of Ecology.
Now there are no more bits of paper but instead an application that is available free of charge in the Google Play Store. In less than a minute, Guzmán said, volunteers can report in detail the sighting of a monarch.
"We'll have data in real time regarding the date, the place and the number of butterflies sighted, allowing us to have larger coverage of the state. Any [Android] cell phone owner can download the free app, which does not take up too much space and can work offline," he explained.
Guzmán also reported that the state government continues teaching people more about the monarch butterfly and the importance of its annual migration to Mexico from Canada and the United States.
The program is designed to promote the conservation of the migratory insect, and is also directed at the staff of several municipalities. Last year, volunteers made 1,200 monarch sightings, a trove of data that has allowed authorities to know more about the different stages of the insects' route through Guanajuato.
Training volunteers and government workers for monitoring the butterflies began on October 5. "Twenty municipalities have joined this effort and we've trained a total of 1,500 people, 500 of whom are volunteers," Guzmán said. "We still have a few more days ... to train more people because we're expecting to see the monarch butterflies flying over the state on, or before, October 30."
The Guanajuato Institute of Ecology's butterfly conservation efforts also include the care of pollinating gardens in the municipalities of Acámbaro, Silao and Celaya, where the monarchs can obtain food and rest.The original article, written by Rosa Emilia Porras Lara for milenio.com, was translated and edited by Mexico News Daily