by Matthew Cobb
Female moths are well known to produce pheromones that attract potential mates, sometimes from miles away. Male moths generally have much larger or more feather-like antennae than females, in order to catch a whiff of their partner on the air. But some males also produce pheromones, using structures called coremata or ‘hair-pencils’. Imagine have a rubber glove in your mouth, then blowing out so it suddenly appeared. Sexy, eh? Well here’s a male moth being helped to do exactly that. Wake up and smell the pheromones, ladies!
Whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry on hair-pencils has done a pretty good job, and there’s some nice references there, although none of the key ones are open access, sadly. As you’ll see, the compounds released by these structures can also be used to warn off competing males.