glandWhat is The Pherobase?

The Pherobase is a freely accessible database of pheromones and semiochemicals. It comprises several databases to provide comprehensive information about pheromones and semiochemicals. The main objective of The Pherobase is to convert scientific data and knowledge from the literature and convert the peer-reviewed information about behaviour-modifying chemicals into an electronically searchable database. The Pherobase covers most animal orders and all types of semiochemicals. In addition to sex pheromones, you will find all other categories of semiochemicals. The coverage ranges from invertebrates to vertebrates, and thousands of plant species.

What are semiochemicals?

Semiochemicals are signaling chemicals that organisms can detect in its environment, which may modify its behaviour or its physiology. Semiochemicals are classified into two main categories:


The term pheromone was coined by Karlson and Lüscher in 1959, for any substance secreted by an organism to the outside that causes specific reactions in the receiving organism of the same species. Pheromones are classified into several subcategories on the basis of the type of interaction they mediate:

  • Sex pheromones: Chemicals that primarily affect an interaction between the sexes (e.g. sex pheromone in moths that attract males to females).
  • Aggregation pheromones: Chemicals that cause an increase in the density of the animals (usually both sexes) in the vicinity of the pheromone source.
  • Trail pheromones: Chemicals secreted by workers of social insects to recruit other individuals to food source or to a new colony site.
  • Alarm pheromones: Chemicals that stimulate escape or defence behaviour.
  • There are other types of pheromones, such as dispersal pheromones, maturation pheromones and others.

This term was proposed by Whittaker in 1970 and is used to describe chemicals that mediate interspecific interactions. Allelochemics are classified into several subcategories:

  • Allomones: Chemical substances that benefit the emitter but not the receiver (e.g. venom secreted by social wasps). (e.g. venom secreted by social wasps).
  • Kairomones: Chemical substances that benefits the receiver but not the emitter (e.g. host location by beneficial insects).
  • Synomones: Chemicals that mediate mutualistic interactions; benefits both the receiver and the emitter..

The Pherobase lists all the above types of semiochemicals, we are mainly interested in the type (category) and source (emitter, source) of the semiochemicals, the abbreviations in the Pherobase are as follows:

Category of the chemical signal:

A– Attractant

Al– Allomone

K– Kairomone



Source of the chemical signal:


H-Host (could be of plant or animal origin);

L– Lure ( substrate used to release compounds);


M&F-male and female;




Here is an example on how to interpret the abbreviations in The Pherobase:

P-is pheromone, which is produced naturally by organism.
The pheromone can either produced by female (F), or male (M) or both male and female (M&F) or queen (Q).

A– is attractant , chemicals that are not naturally produced by organism but found to be attractive in either field or laboratory experiments. Please note that the same compound can be (A and P) at the same time. The reason for that, some scientists discovered that certain compounds are attractant (A) to certain insect and later other scientists discovered that these compounds are produced naturally by this insect (P). When the chemicals are discovered to be an attractant (A) the source in this case is usually a synthetic lure (L).

*-Sometimes scientists discovered that insects produce many compounds but few of them are behaviouraly attractive. This is reflected in The Pherobase by the Asterisk sign (*) for the active compounds, while the inactive compounds does not have any sign.

H– Stands for host volatile mainly of plant origin, but for medically important insects, it is of animal origin as in the case of mosquitoes and if this host volatile (H) is attractive to insects it is considered a Kairomones (K).

The ratio of the compounds reported in the blend are given either as relative ratio or as relative amount in (ng) or (µg).

Citation of The Pherobase:

This site is maintained entirely on a voluntary basis and was made simple for your convenience through hundreds of hours of software programming, hard work and dedication. Therefore, if you use the Pherobase in your research or as a general reference in your publication please cite according to the Journal’s style.