Love is in the Air

Love is in the Air

BY : Rhiannon Nevinczenko

With Valentine's Day coming up, love is in the air! Or is it just pheromones? If you were a luna moth (pictured), they would be one and the same.
Luna moths have incredibly sensitive antennae that can smell pheromones, allowing them to find mates. Pheromones are species specific, preventing identity confusion.
Despite the many efforts of researchers and perfume makers, we have not discovered a pheromone that functions that strongly or simply in humans. Pheromones can communicate a range of things within a species aside from mating availability. For example, you may have heard that the pleasant smell of freshly cut grass is actually a chemically-expressed distress or warning signal. Plants can use pheromones to signal danger this way. We humans are more sensitive to pheromones than one might initially assume, but we don't work as simply as luna moths and grass in that regard.
Image credit: Underwatercolor via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0.

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