Epideictic pheromones are chemical signals that insects use to communicate with each other. These pheromones are used in a variety of ways, including mate attraction, nestmate recognition, and aggregation. In some cases, epideictic pheromones can also be used to warn other members of the same species of potential danger. Here, we'll focus on how epideictic pheromones are used in mate attraction and nestmate recognition.
In many species of insects, females produce epideictic pheromones to attract mates. These pheromones are often designed to mimic the natural smells of the insect's preferred food or habitat. For example, female moths will release a pheromone that smells like rotting fruit in order to attract male moths.
Not all epideictic pheromones are attractive to the opposite sex, however. In some cases, these pheromones actually serve to repel potential mates. For example, female cockroaches will release a repulsive-smelling epidermal pheromone when they feel threatened. This helps to ward off unwanted attention from males and ensure that only the fittest cockroaches are able to mate.
In addition to attracting mates, epidermal pheromones also play an important role in helping insects recognize their nestmates. These natural scent markers help members of the same species identify one another and prevent them from straying too far from the safety of the nest.
For example, bees produce a special set of hydrocarbon molecules known as ' cuticular hydrocarbons' (CHCs). These CHCs coat the surface of their bodies and serve as a sort of 'fingerprint' that identifies them as members of the same hive. If a bee strays too far from home, it will be coated in foreign CHCs that act as a signal to other bees that it doesn't belong. This helps prevent bees from getting lost and ensures that they always have a way back to their hive.
Epidermal pheromones play an important role in the social lives of insects. By producing these chemical signals, insects are able to attract mates, ward off potential threats, and recognize their nestmates. The next time you see a group of insects gathered together, take a moment to appreciate the complicated system of communication that brought them all together.