Pheromone Communication in Moths and Butterflies

  • Dietrich Schneider
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 15)


Insects as well as many animals of other classes, use chemical signals — so called pheromones (Karlson and Lüscher, 1959; Karlson, 1960; Karlson and Butenandt, 1960) — for intraspecific communication. Our interest is to gain an understanding of communication in the form of exchange of biologically meaningful signals between conspecifics (Schneider, 1965; Wilson, 1970) in moths and butterflies. Originally it was assumed that pheromones are species-specific, that is, each species produced, for example, its own sexual attractant. While this appears to be true in many cases, recent investigations have shown that very often the situation is much more complex. Closely related species may have the same pheromone and therefore need additional means, for example differences in their diel rhythm, behavioral differences and/or different amounts of the attractant (Kaae et al., 1973), to secure their reproductive isolation. Furthermore, it has been found that many species use more than one compound to attract the sexual partner. In field experiments, the addition of other compounds to the main pheromone can increase the catching rate of one species and block the attraction of another.


Gypsy Moth Odor Source Odor Receptor Sexual Attractant Female Moth 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dietrich Schneider
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieSeewiesenGermany

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