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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how animals influence the behaviour of others of their species by secreting or excreting chemical substances.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how members of the same species send each other invisible chemical signals to influence the way they behave. Pheromones are used by species across the animal kingdom in a variety of ways, such as laying trails to be followed, to raise the alarm, to scatter from predators, to signal dominance and to enhance attractiveness and, in honey bees, even direct development into queen or worker.

The image above is of male and female ladybirds that have clustered together in response to pheromones.


Tristram Wyatt
Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford

Jane Hurst
William Prescott Professor of Animal Science at the University of Liverpool


Francis Ratnieks
Professor of Apiculture and Head of the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects at the University of Sussex

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Thu 21 Feb 2019 21:30


Tristram Wyatt at the University of Oxford

Jane Hurst at the University of Liverpool

Francis Ratnieks at the University of Sussex

Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects – University of Sussex

LASI Bee Research & Outreach

‘Sexing up the human pheromone story: How a corporation started a scientific myth’ – The Guardian, March 4th 2015

‘Trail Pheromones: An Integrative View of Their Role in Social Insect Colony Organization’ - Annual Review of Entomology, 2015

‘Evidence for a queen-produced egg-marking pheromone and its use in worker policing in the honey bee’ - Journal of Apicultural Research, 1995

‘Thoughts on information and integration in honey bee colonies’ – Apidologie, 1998

‘Pheromones of the honey bee society’ - Chapter 5 in Neurobiology of Chemical Communication (ed. Carla Mucignat-Caretta) CRC Press; 2014

‘The search for human pheromones: The lost decades and the necessity of returning to first principles’ - Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 2015

‘Pheromones’ - Current Biology, 2017

‘How animals communicate via pheromones’ - American Scientist, 2015

‘Scent wars: the chemobiology of competitive signalling in mice’ - BioEssays, 2004

‘Female attraction to male scent and associative learning: The house mouse as a mammalian model’ - Animal Behaviour, 2014

‘Pheromonal communication in vertebrates’ – Nature, 2006

‘Mammalian Pheromones’ - Annual Review of Physiology, 2014

‘Communicating through scents: An interview with Jane Hurst’ - BMC Biology, 2018



Jack W. Bradbury and Sandra L. Vehrencamp, Principles of Animal Communication (2nd edition, Sinauer, 2011)

Thomas Eisner, For Love of Insects (Harvard University Press, 2005)

Tristram D. Wyatt, Pheromones and Animal Behavior: Chemical Signals and Signatures (2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Tristram D. Wyatt, Animal Behaviour: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2017)



  • Thu 21 Feb 2019 09:00
  • Thu 21 Feb 2019 21:30

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