The action of pheromones of insects, which they use to communicate with other individuals of their species, was discovered many centuries ago. It has long been known to beekeepers that if a bee stings when inspecting a hive, then a specific smell is felt in the air, and the likelihood of being stung by other bees increases significantly. The first published work, which described such odorous substances in a honey bee (Apis mellifera L.), is the book of the English beekeeper C. Butler “Female Monarchy”, published in Oxford in 1609:

“If a bee stings you or your companion, especially if it happens in hot weather, and even if the sting is stuck in your clothes, you should get away as soon as possible; otherwise, other bees, smelling the disgusting smell of poison oozing from a sting, will surround you with a wall … ”

In 1792, the Swiss natural scientist F. Hubert established that a cut sting of a working bee or its smell causes aggressive behavior in other working bees. The German beekeeper A. Berlepsch in 1877 discovered that objects rubbed by the body of a dead queen bee attract workers.

In 1882, the Russian scientist N.V. Nasonov described the odorous gland in bees, which now bears his name. The domestic researcher G.L. Kondratenko in 1910 described the odorous substance secreted by the abdomen of the queen bee, and found that with his lack of bees incubate a new uterus. In his work, The Theory of the New Beekeeping, he wrote:

“The abdomen of the uterus, secreting a smelling oily substance absorbed by bees through the contact of the antennae, gives the bees the opportunity to recognize each other by a uniform unifying smell and to distinguish bees coming from outside. If for some reason the abdomen of the uterus loses its ability to secrete an odorous, oily substance, then the bees derive a new uterus from a fertilized egg … Without the unifying smell of the uterus, it would be unthinkable for a bee family to be – with respect to bees this is the most important purpose of the uterus. Before becoming the mother of a generation, she must unite the family of bees with the smell of her abdomen; without a unifying smell, the family that accepted it will die, by which supplies will be plundered and killed. ”

We studied odorous substances and other groups of insects. In 1837, the German zoologist K. T. Sibold first suggested the existence of sex pheromones; he found that males of some species of insects are attracted by females using a pair of appendages at the end of the abdomen that secrete an attractive substance.

In 1878, biologist F. Muller published a list of 44 species of South American day butterflies, whose males emit a human perceptible smell that causes sexual arousal in females. Müller’s theory that androconia (a group of specialized scales on the body of male butterflies) has spread is smelling organs. In 1896, M. Standfus, in his work on the geographical variability of dipper butterflies (Arctidae), pointed out the role of specific odors providing isolation of the species.

The works of the French entomologist J.-A. are widely known. Fabra, who spent in the second half of the XIX century. experiments with butterflies of pear saturnia (Saturnia pyri Denis & Schiff.). He found that a single female of Saturn, just emerging from a chrysalis, is able to attract dozens of males of her own species from a distance of several kilometers. Fabre suggested that the males were attracted by the smell emitted by the females, but the nature of this phenomenon was not completely clear to him. Here is how he commented on the results:

“But what does the female of Saturn distinguish from the material? Nothing, judging by our olfactory impressions.

And this was nothing to saturate the air with its molecules within a radius of several kilometers! Reason refuses to believe in it … It’s the same as imagining that you can paint a whole lake with a grain of carmine. ”

In 1893, American scientists E. Forbush and C. Fernald tried to use traps with live females of unpaired silkworms to capture males (Fig. 1); Although these traps attracted males, they were not widely used due to low efficiency in pest control.

Fig. 1. A trap for catching males of unpaired silkworms by luring them to live females (according to Forbush, Fernald, 1896)

From the works of American researchers C. Collins and S. Potts, performed in 1913-1931, it became known that the extract of the last segments of the abdomen of a virgin female unpaired silkworm has the same attractiveness for male moths as a live female.

In 1924, the Polish entomologist J. Pruffer established that males of butterflies devoid of both antennas do not respond to females.

From the foregoing, we can conclude that the science of pheromone communication of insects developed in the beginning


pretty slow. So, almost 200 years have passed between the appearance of the first and second publications on insect odors. Only in the 19th century, especially at the end, did a whole series of works appear that more or less dealt with the issues of pheromone communication of insects. However, many major naturalists, zoologists and entomologists of the past treated the role of odor substances in the communication of insects with great caution and distrust. So, in 1901 N. Nasonov wrote about the androconia as odorous organs:

“No exact physiological experiments have been done to find out the place of separation of odoriferous matter by males of butterflies, so the separation of odorous substances through androconies cannot be considered an established fact, and it has not been proved at all that the smell has the meaning ascribed to it.”

Intensive studies of insect pheromones and attempts to determine their chemical composition began in the middle of the 20th century.

In 1957, the German biologist D. Schneider was able to register the first electroantenogram – the reaction of an insect antenna to a pheromone.

In 1959, the German biochemist A. Butenandt with his collaborators, after 20 years of rigorous experiments, was the first to establish the chemical composition of the insect pheromone. (Back in 1939, for researching human sex hormones, he was awarded the Nobel Prize, which, however, he received only in 1949, after the Second World War. – Note, ed .) Received substance, trans-10, cis-12- hexadecadien-1-ol, it was called by him “bombikol”.

The term “ pheromone ” was first proposed by the German biochemist P. Carlson and the Swiss entomologist M. Luscher in 1959; it comes from two Greek words: cpspsiv (ferein – to transfer) and oppcov (hormone – excite), that is, “carrier of excitement.” In January 1959, they published an article entitled “Pheromones: A New Term for the Class of Biologically Active Substances” in the famous journal Nature.

In 1960, the American scientist M. Jacobson and his colleagues determined the structure of the genital pheromone of unpaired silkworm and then synthesized its analogue; the resulting preparation was called ” giplur .” In 1962, after intensive field trials of guipure, the US Department of Agriculture began to widely use the resulting pheromone preparation in traps for unpaired silkworms; in 1979, 95 thousand pheromone traps were used in the United States to monitor this pest.

In 1961, an English researcher C. Butler identified a pheromone of a honey bee called the “uterine substance.” This was the first pheromone that regulates the development of insects, the structure of which was determined.

In the 1950-1960s. the number of scientific publications devoted to pheromones increased to 10-25 per year; in the 1970s and 1980s the number of such publications reached 200-300 a year. By 1983, the total number of published works on insect pheromones reached 12 thousand names.

In the 1970s widespread use of synthetic pheromones in traps for monitoring pests and determining the optimal timing of treatment with insecticides. Other methods of plant protection were developed using synthetic pheromones. In the late 1970s. the first pheromone pest control disorder was registered in the USA.

In 1980, 600 thousand pheromone traps were used on the territory of Norway, which made it possible to mass capture 2.9 billion beetles of the bark beetle typograph, which at that time had an outbreak of mass reproduction.

Development in the 1970-1980s. high-precision methods of chemistry and electrophysiology of insects allowed us to identify and synthesize pheromones of a large number of economically significant species of insects. By 1984, 670 species of insects were synthesized in the world. More than 125 species of pheromone preparations were tested in Western Europe at that time, they were widely used against 25 species of harmful insects. In 1987, synthetic pheromone insect preparations were produced in the world by 17 international corporations.

Since 1991, the world began an intensive spread of the disorientation method to protect plants from pests. About 80% of pheromone preparations used for disorientation and are currently registered in the early 90’s. XX century By 2008, disorienting pheromones were used in the world on a total area of ​​more than 650 thousand hectares against pests of forest species, fruit crops, vineyards, rice, tea and other agricultural crops.

In the 1970-1980s. rapid development of pheromone research began in the USSR. A significant contribution to the development of domestic pheromonology was made by A. V. Skirkevichius,

A.P. Sazonov, G.I. Filimonov, Yu. B. Pyatnov, K.V. Lebedev,

A.I. Smetnik, V.A. Emelyanov, E.R. Myttus, B.G. Kovalev and many of their colleagues. The main studies during this period were carried out at the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Plant Protection Chemicals (VNIIHSZR) and its Schelkovo branch, the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Biological Methods of Plant Protection (Moldavian SSR), Tartu State University (Estonian SSR), the Institute of Zoology and Parasitology of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences SSR, All-Union Research Institute of Plant Protection, All-Union Research Institute of Plant Quarantine.

In 1976, pheromone traps of American production began to be used to monitor the eastern moth in the USSR: for example, in 1977 this pest was detected in the Mineralnye Vody area; Since 1978, the use of traps of domestic production began. In the same period, studies were carried out on the possibility of suppressing populations of the eastern, plum and apple codling moths by methods of mass capture and disorientation in various zones of the USSR. Already in 1979, the Flora Household Chemical Production Association (POHC) of the Estonian SSR produced 20 thousand sets of traps, and by 1988 more than 1.5 million sets of pheromone traps were produced in the USSR annually, which were used on a total area of ​​more than 2 million ha

In 1981, the Russian Potato Moth Pheromone was first synthesized at the All-Russian Research Institute for Biological Plant Protection (VNIIBMZR). In 1983 alone, 38.5 thousand pheromone traps of domestic production were used on the territory of the Krasnodar Territory to monitor this quarantine pest.

In 1985, domestic pheromone preparations of the apple codling moth (produced by the Flora PHBH of the Estonian SSR) and plum moth (the production of the Schelkovo branch of VNIIHSZR) were allowed for widespread use. By 1987, domestic scientists received data on the structure of pheromones of more than 160 species of insects that live on the territory of the USSR; by 1990, 26 pheromone preparations were included in the “List of drugs approved for use in agriculture.”

The development of pheromonology as a science and applied industry continues in Russia at the present time. In recent years, domestic researchers have identified pheromones of a number of agricultural and forest pests, have created new preparative forms. The main studies to identify the composition of insect pheromones and to develop new preparative forms are carried out by employees of the All-Russian Research Institute of Chemical Plant Protection Products, the All-Russian Research Institute of Biological Plant Protection, Schelkovo Agrohim CJSC, the All-Russian Plant Quarantine Center. Employees of the All-Russian Research Institute for Plant Protection, the All-Russian Center for Plant Quarantine, and the departments of plant protection of agricultural universities of Russia (Russian State Agrarian University – K.A.

In 2010, by the decision of the visiting Bureau of the Plant Protection Branch of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (RAAS), the All-Russian Center for Plant Quarantine (FSBI VNIIKR) was determined as the focal point for the study of insect pheromones. The program for the identification of quarantine pests in the Russian Federation using pheromone and color traps in the areas of greatest phytosanitary risk for 2016-2018. it was planned to use more than 100 thousand pheromone traps to identify more than 20 types of dangerous quarantine pests.

In recent years, domestic pheromone preparations for beekeeping have also been developed in Russia, which allow controlling the behavior of bees, increasing their productivity and reducing aggressiveness. The main research in this direction is carried out by employees of the Research Institute of Beekeeping, the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Educational and Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (UC RAS) and the departments of beekeeping of agricultural universities.

test questions

  • What are pheromones? Which animals are they found in?
  • What are the main stages in the development of research on insect pheromones.
  • When did synthetic insect pheromones begin to be used to monitor and protect plants from pests in the USSR?
  • What scientific institutions are currently studying insect pheromones in Russia at present?
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