The scent chemistry of butterflies

Abstract

Covering: 1990 up to 2022 Contrary to popular opinion, butterflies exhibit a rich chemistry and elaborate use of volatile compounds, especially for sexual communication, but also for defence. In contrast to night flying moths, in which commonly females are the producers of pheromones, male scent emission is prevalent in butterflies. While visual signals are generally important for long-range attraction, butterfly scent signals are often active only within a short range. Another feature of butterfly scent chemistry is the wide variety of compounds used, including alkaloids, terpenoids, fatty acid derivatives and aromatic compounds, sometimes with unique structures. This contrasts the strucutrally more restricted pheromone chemistry of moths. In this review, the compounds emitted predominately from male butterflies will be discussed and their ecological function explained, if known. The review includes material from 1990 to date, but will also cover older material to provide a necessary background.

Graphical abstract: The scent chemistry of butterflies

Article information

Article type
Review Article
Submitted
23 Sep 2022
First published
24 Nov 2022
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY-NC license

Nat. Prod. Rep., 2023, Advance Article

The scent chemistry of butterflies

S. Ehlers and S. Schulz, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2023, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D2NP00067A

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