Pheromones are the chemical messengers that tell your partner you’re keen. Some are effective over a short distance only, while others are highly volatile and can be detected several miles from the source.
Many mammals rely on pheromones, but it’s insects that have the best system for mate location by smell. Moths are particularly good. The female silk moth produces her volatile secretion, called bombykol (let’s call it ‘the bomb’), from scent glands on her abdomen, and then flutters her wings to dispense it (reminds me of those fluttering eyelashes I never mastered).
Each male moth has enormous antennae so sensitive that he will respond to just one molecule of bombykol. The male flies upwind to locate the female, moving all the time to stronger concentrations of ‘the bomb’. Then he has her. Magic.
So next time you’re reading about the hero’s sandalwood or citrus or sweat…think of those fluttery eyelashes, I mean wings, and the female silk moth bomb.