Pheromone Components and Active Spaces: What Do Moths Smell and Where Do They Smell It?

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Science  07 Aug 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4815, pp. 650-652
DOI: 10.1126/science.237.4815.650


The pheromone-mediated flight behavior of male Oriental fruit moths was observed in the field to test the hypothesis that male activation far downwind of a female is initiated by the major, or most abundant, component of the pheromone blend. Males responded at significantly greater distances to the three-component pheromone blend produced by females than to the major component alone or to either binary mixture containing the major component and one minor component. These results support the alternative hypothesis that the active space of a multicomponent pheromone is a function of male perception of the female-released blend of components, rather than of the major component alone, and that so-called minor components have a greater impact on male behavior farther downwind of a female than previously thought.