Types of Insect Pheromones
- One use of pheromones is to communicate readiness to mate.The insects are coupled image by Sidoroff from Fotolia.com
Pheromones are a communication tool used in several species on insects and other types of social animals. In 1956 a group of German researchers discovered the first pheromone. Over the course of 20 years and removing glands from the abdomens of over 500,000 female moths, the sex pheromone bombykol was extracted from a silk moth. The reaction of male moths exposed to bombykol was to become aroused, sensing the readiness of a female to mate. Pheromones, we now know, communicate many things throughout colonies and areas of insect activity.
- Sex pheromones are released when an insect is searching for a mate. The sex pheromone secretions of several species of insects can be sensed and recognized miles away.
Aggregation and despersal pheromones
- These pheromones are used to control the density of insects in certain areas. The release of these pheromones either attracts or deters insects to the area. They can be released to announce an abundant food source which could sustain animals, or if the area has a particularly dangerous environment for the species to deter others from colonizing the area. These pheromones have been adopted by farmers and exterminators as an alternative to insecticides.
- Trail pheromones are released by "worker" insects, such as bees and ants, to recruit other workers to food sources and colony sites. If a worker finds a new food source, the insect releases the pheromone to attract other workers to the area.
Other types of pheromones
- There are many other types of pheromones, such as alarm pheromones, which are a defensive communication to other insects to either stay away or attack. Each pheromone's chemical makeup is unique to each specific species of insect.