Much like hormones (sometimes called "ectohormones"), pheromones (Jacobson 1972) are special kinds of biologically active substances released by one individual which cause other individuals of the same species to act in a specific way. These substances are extremely numerous in kind and influence among insects and their relatives. In fact, entomologists have realized in recent years that the dominant means of communication between these creatures is via these messenger substances (Shorey 1976), perceived by olfactory sense organs, especially on the antennae, mouthparts, and tarsi (Lewis 1984). They are produced by ectodermal (exocrine) glands on the abdomen, wings, or other parts of the body.

Some pheromonal systems that have been particularly well studied are the aph-rodisiacal scents from the wings of male butterflies and moths or eversible abdominal glands of the females. These chemicals serve to draw the sexes together and elicit courtship and copulatory behavior. The trail-marking substances and alarm chemicals of ants and bees that foster aggregation are also pheromonal, as are the caste and activity controlling regulators in social insect colonies.

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