Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Gypsy Moths

A female Gypsy Moth has wings, but they're too small to lift the creature into the air. Instead, the moth uses its wings to fan a chemical pheromone into the night sky; a pheromone so highly concentrated that it can be picked up by the sensitive antennae of a male seven miles away.

The male, which never eats, spends its adult life tasting molecules in the air for a hint of a female. When it detects one, it begins flying a zigzag course against the breeze. Each time it intercepts a molecule of the pheromone, it adjusts its course slightly until it finally reaches the female. After mating, the female releases a different chemical that neutralizes the attraction pheromone still left in the surrounding air. Read more about the Gypsy Moth.

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