Olfaction and Far Infrared Signaling by Moths

Moth mating by olfactory shape theory relying on the improbable fitting of the pheromone (sex scent) into matched receptors on the antenna is probable with signals of the far infrared (FIR) spectra of the pheromone left along the trail of the female
By: Thomas Prevenslik
FIR Communication and the Corn Ear Moth
FIR Communication and the Corn Ear Moth
April 8, 2011 - PRLog -- Background

In humans, olfaction is deemed to occur by Buck and Axel’s [1] shape theory where odorant molecules find and fit into perfectly matching receptors on the inside nose surface. Turin [2] proposed an electromagnetic (EM) alternative to olfaction whereby the odorant fitted in the receptor is known from electron tunneling. However, both theories require the receptor to have the precise matching shape of the odorant molecule. Since the probability of the odorant finding a receptor is extremely unlikely, Prevenslik [3] proposed the odorant molecule only needs to contact the inside surface of the nose. Odorant contact absorbs thermal kT energy of the surface atoms and upon loss of contact, the isolated molecule cannot conserve the absorbed energy by an increase in temperature because quantum mechanics (QM) requires the individual molecule to have zero specific heat. Instead, conservation proceeds by the QED induced emission of the odorant by its FIR spectra . Odorants encoded in the brain allow recognition by their FIR spectra. QED stands for quantum electrodynamics. See http://www.prlog.org/11317593-olfaction-by-contact-induce...

Unlike humans, insects evolved with a pair of antenna provided with sensilla disposed along their length. Olfaction in insects is thought to follow shape theory in humans. However, like humans, olfaction is questionable because the probability of the pheromone  finding the receptor is extremely unlikely. EM communication would greatly increase the probability of the pheromone finding the receptor and enhance mating. But absorption by water vapor limits EM signaling to the FIR. Callahan [4] showed corn earworm moths Heliothis zea shown in the figure respond to the FIR through atmospheric windows at 200, 280, 350, and 450 microns, i.e., from 200 to 1000 microns ( < 50 / cm). Indeed, mercury quartz lamps that attract moths have excellent transmission wavelengths at 218, 300, and 343 microns. See "Atmospheric Transmission" from 10 to 350 / cm showing optimum transmission at (< 30 / cm) or wavelengths > 300 microns that includes microwaves. http://sbfel3.ucsb.edu/optical_transport/atm_abs.html

Generally, insect research is not conducted in the FIR (< 30 / cm) range. Hsiao [5] measured the response of cabbage looper moths Trichophsia ni and found agreement with olfactory theory. In addition, the moth response to infrared (IR) radiation was measured using characteristic vibration frequencies of the synthesized pheromone. For comparison, IR radiation was used to excite the pheromone to emit its FIR spectra, but IR communication could not be confirmed. However, the moth was not directly exposed to the pheromone, but rather through a NaCl window that only passed EM signals from 0.2 to 20 microns (> 500 / cm), and therefore the moth's FIR response was excluded placing in question the conclusion that FIR communication was not significant.  

FIR Signaling in Moths  

Moths are known to assemble with the male both upwind and downwind of the female. Upwind assembly may only occur by FIR signaling while both olfaction and FIR signaling may occur in downwind assembly. Regardless, the pheromone molecules released by the female move with the wind and repeatedly contact nearby or distant surface from the male, say as the pheromone bounces along the ground. Upon each contact, the scent molecules absorb thermal kT energy from the surfaces that is conserved by a burst of EM radiation given by the FIR spectrum of the pheromone. Male moths downwind of the female therefore assemble by following the trail of bursts of FIR spectra left by the pheromone molecules.


In the following discussion, the seminal paper “Electromagnetic communication and olfaction in insects“ summarizing differences between olfaction and FIR radiation is used to illustrate QED induced contact FIR spectra. See  http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Electromagnetic+communicati...

Probability of Olfaction Olfaction by shape theory that requires the pheromone in the wind to find and fit into antenna receptors has a statistical probability close to zero. By shape theory, the simplest biological event of a hormone activating a receptor would require thousands of years. Similar to olfaction in man, Nature in insects is simply too subtle to require that pheromones wander around only to be sensed by olfaction until they just happen to fit into the right receptors. Indeed, olfaction is improbable without FIR signaling.

Pheromone Excitation Pheromone molecules need to be excited to emit their FIR spectra. Experiments show neither the pheromone nor IR radiation alone is the attractant. Natural blackbody IR from the surroundings thought to excite the pheromone molecules released by the female moth is unlikely because the pheromone is in thermal equilibrium with the surroundings. In contrast, contact induced FIR emission is not in equilibrium with the surroundings, thereby allowing the transmission of the FIR signal for male recognition.

Antenna Rubbing Constant rubbing of the antenna by all species of insects is thought to spread the scent molecules uniformly over the sensilla surface and allow the female to emit coherent FIR signals. Contact induced FIR signaling differs in that the pheromone molecules in contact with the macroscopic sensilla surface have acquired thermal kT energy, and therefore rubbing knocks pheromone molecules loose allowing them to signal other insects by emitting their FIR spectra.

Ant Tapping Ants by rapid tapping of antenna on the ground or on the antenna of other ants does indeed create scent trails by knocking off pheromone molecules, but not by olfaction alone. Neighbors are signaled as the thermal kT energy acquired during contact is released as the FIR spectra of the pheromone.

Wing Beating Bees, mosquitoes, flies, crickets, and locusts are thought to increase their temperature by beating their wings, e.g., the female moth receptive to mating sits in one spot and vibrates her wings to increases the wing temperature about 6 C allowing thermal blackbody emission in the IR at 9.7 microns. In contrast, contact induced FIR spectra are emitted as pheromone molecules are knocked off wing surfaces.

Narrow Band Frequencies Most research on EM communication in insects is directed in narrowband frequencies in the IR that fit into the atmospheric windows of water vapor absorption between 2 and 30 microns. Unfortunately, the FIR from 300 to 1000 microns (< 30 / cm) is optimum for atmospheric transmission.


1. In human olfaction, the probability of the odorant molecule finding and fitting into the apppropriate receptor in the nose by the theories of Buck and Axel’s shape and extensions thereof by Turin‘s electron tunneling is extremely unlikely.

2. Similar to humans, the probability of insect olfaction by the pheromone molecule moving in the wind to find and fit into receptors on the antenna is extremely unlikely.

3. Contact induced FIR spectra allows prompt olfaction by odorants in the human nose and by pheromones with insect antenna.


1. Buck, L. and Axel, R., “A novel multigene family may encode odorant receptors- a molecular basis for odour recognition,” Cell, 65, 175-187 (1991).

2. Turin, L., “A Spectroscopic Mechanism for Primary Olfactory Reception,” Chem. Senses, 21, 73–91 (1996).

3. Prevenslik, T., ”Chemical Sensing by QED,” http://www.nanoqe.org, 2011.

4. Callahan, P. S., Far Infrared Stimulation of Insects with the Glagolewa-Arkadiewa “Mass Radiator”, The Florida Entomologist, 54 (2), 201-205 (1971).

5. Hsiao, H. S., “The Attraction of Moths (Tricoplusia Ni) to Infrared Radiation,” J. Insect Physiol. , 18, 1705-1714 (1972).

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About QED Induced EM Radiation: Classically, absorbed EM energy is conserved by an increase in temperature. But at the nanoscale, temperature increases are forbidden by quantum mechanics. QED radiation explains how absorbed EM energy is conserved at the nanoscale by the emission of nonthermal EM radiation.
Source:Thomas Prevenslik
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Tags:Insects, Moths, Pheronomes, Olfaction, Far Infrared, Buck And Axel, Turin, Vibration, Shape, Quantum Mechanics
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Page Updated Last on: Apr 09, 2011

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