Typology of pheromones according to their aim


Pheromones are chemical compounds that are divided according to numerous criteria. You can distinguish them for the effect, characteristics, or mode of operation. We will present you their classification, taking into account the most important (in our opinion) criterion – their function.


Types of pheromones are ordered in terms of their aim. Please note that this division applies primarily to the animal world.

  1. Sex Pheromones

Sex pheromones are used in the process of establishing a foreplay with a partner leading to copulation and fertilization among animals. Sexual pheromones may be various compounds, including:

  • carboxylic acids,
  • aldehydes,
  • phenols,
  • alcohols,
  • hydrocarbons,
  • aromatic and aliphatic compounds.

Pheromones eliminate the problems associated with partners’ mating and synchronize the actions leading to copulation. They are found in mammals, insects, aquatic animals and reptiles.


  1. Defensive Pheromones

Defensive Pheromones are compounds that cause only negative feelings – pain, shock, paralysis, and even death. Hence their name – they are used for defence, so they have to deter rather than attract. These compounds are generally not intended for individuals of the same species and therefore are not classified as the conventional pheromones. Defensive pheromones are found for example in the venom of ants.


  1. Pheromones Signing Territory

Pheromones signing territory are used for marking the limits of the place of residence or hunting. They are used by insects and carnivores that delimit boundaries of territories using the chemical compounds contained in urine. Among pheromones signing territory used by insects, there are included aliphatic hydrocarbons and terpenoids.


  1. Aggregation Pheromones

The aim of the aggregation pheromones is to bring together individuals of one species at the site, where they were secreted. All this in order to lure potential sexual partners, provide information about the found food or notify the discovery of an ideal place to establish a colony. Aggregation pheromones are among the most enduring ones.


  1. Distracting Pheromones

The purpose of distracting pheromones is to keep the individuals of the same species at a certain distance from each other in order to prevent competition for food, sexual partners or place of egg-laying. Otherwise, many unnecessary fights for these resources might occur.