Produced by one or the other sex, these pheromones attract individuals of both sexes.
Some species release a volatile substance when attacked by a predator that can trigger flight (in aphids) or aggression (in bees) in members of the same species. Pheromones also exist in plants:certain plants emit alarm pheromones when grazed upon, resulting in tannin production in neighboring plants. These tannins make the plants less appetizing for the herbivore.
Recognized in insects, these pheromones are different from territory pheromones. According to Fabre (translated from French), “Females who lay their eggs in these fruits deposit these mysterious substances in the vicinity of their clutch to signal to other females of the same species so that they will clutch elsewhere.”
Powerful attractant molecules that some organisms may use to attract mates from a distance of 2 miles or more. This type of pheromone generally elicites rapid response but is quickly degraded. In contrast, a primer pheromone would have a slower onset but a longer duration.
These pheromones trigger a change of developmental events.
Laid down in the environment, these pheromones mark the boundaries of an organism’s territory. In dogs, these hormones are present in the urine, which they deposit on landmarks serving to mark the perimeter of the claimed territory.
These pheromones are common in social insects. For example, ants mark their paths with these pheromones, which are non-volatile hydrocarbons.
Certain ants lay down an initial trail of pheromones as they return to the nest with food. This trail attracts other ants and serves as a guide. As long as the food source remains, the pheromone trail will be continually renewed. The pheromone must be continually renewed because it evaporates quickly. When the supply begins to dwindle, the trailmaking ceases. In at least one species of ant, trails that no longer lead to food are also marked with a repellent pheromone.
Sesiidae on a pheromone trapIn animals, sex pheromones indicate the availability of the female for breeding. Male animals may also emit pheromones that convey information about their species and genotype. Many insect species release sex pheromones to attract a mate and many lepidopterans can detect a potential mate from as far away as 10 km (6.2 miles). Pheromones can be used in gametes to trail the opposite sex’s gametes for fertilization. Pheromones are also used in the detection of oestrus in sows. Boar pheromones are sprayed into the sty, and those sows which exhibit sexual arousal are known to be currently available for breeding.
Other Pheromones (Not Yet Classified)
This classification, based on the effects on behavior, remains artificial. Pheromones fill many additional functions.
- Nasonov pheromones (worker bees)
- Royal pheromones (bees)
- Calming (appeasement) pheromones (mammals)