Most people have heard of pheromones, those mysterious chemicals that animals secrete to attract members of the opposite sex. But pheromones can also do a lot more. Here are few of their more interesting properties.--
Compiled by R. Douglas Fields

Sex Effects
True to their reputation, pheromones affect reproduction in mammals.

Name Result
Whitten effect Male pheromones induce estrus, or sexual receptivity and fertility, in females
Vandenbergh effect Male pheromones accelerate puberty of females
Lee-Boot effect Female pheromones suppress estrus cycle of other females and delay puberty of younger females
Bruce effect Male pheromones from a new mate prevent newly fertilized egg from implanting and female returns to estrus
Dorm effect Female pheromones synchronize estrous cycle of other females. Studies of women living in dormitory housing provide evidence in humans, but the results have not been replicated in other animals.
Coolidge effect The loss of interest in sex after mating, which becomes reignited by pheromones from a new mate

Love Potion No. 9
The pheromones below are sold commercially. However, no scientific evidence exists to prove that any of these products actually increases attraction between sexes.

Name What It Is Product
Copulins Fatty acids found in vaginal secretions Synthetic versions appear in a variety of fragrances for women
Androstenone/Androstenol Pheromone present in boar saliva Andron, The Scent, The Secrete, Yes Pheromone,
Sex Attractant for Men (all claim to attract women)
"Vomeropherins" Marketing term for human androstens, progestins and estrogens Realm Men and Realm Women colognes
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) Steroid hormone abundant in humans Pheromone 1013 (for women)
Steroids/musks/lipids Human male pheromones Pheromone 10X (for men)

Battle of the Sexes
Animals that live in groups sometimes secrete pheromones that control one another's reproductive behavior.

Animal Chemical-Control Effect
Lemurs (male) Pheromones in the urine of dominant male lemurs suppress sexual activity in subordinates by depressing their testosterone levels
Lemurs (female) Female urinary pheromones stimulate sperm formation and testosterone production in males
Prairie voles Pheromones of dominant female prairie voles suppress reproduction by subordinate females

Attracting Trouble
When pheromones make war, not love.

Animal Chemical-Control Effect
Parasitic wasps Prey on aphids by detecting the sex pheromones of female aphids
Yellowjacket wasps Prey on fruit flies by detecting the male fly pheromones
Honey Bees Release alarm pheromones when they sting, which attract other bees to attack
Trickery
Some plants and animals evolved the ability to co-opt others' pheromones for their own nefarious purposes.

Plant or Animal Chemical-Control Effect
Australian orchids Produce female sex pheromones of bees to lure males, who pollinate the flower as they attempt to mate with the petals
Bola spiders Release a female moth sex pheromone to lure male moths as prey
Wild potatoes Produce aphid alarm pheromones to repel aphids from attacking their leaves
Garter snakes Certain males known as "she-males" release female sex pheromones that trick other males into expending sexual energy fruitlessly, giving the she-males better odds at mating successfully with real females
Female elephants Secrete the same sex pheromone as many moths, but this doesn't appear to cause confusion about mating with the right species

Mother Knows Best
Pheromones play a role in the mother-child bond.

Animal Chemical-Control Effect
Human newborns Learn the specific odors of their mother's breast and armpits within the first three hours after birth
Lambs Cause an increase in the number of cells in their mother's olfactory bulb that respond selectively to baby lamb odors
Women Have a sharper sense of smell than men, and brain imaging shows that a larger portion of their brain is activated by odors than in men
Source: Pheromones and Animal Behavior. Tristram D. Wyatt. Cambridge University Press, 2003.