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Raped by Gypsies
"Did I ever tell you," Alan asked us, "about the time I was almost raped by gypsies?"
That grabbed us. "Come on now, you're kidding!"
"I'm dead serious. Actually, it was gypsy moths. We had a plague of them at our place in Connecticut, and I bought some of these traps that consist of a sex attractant in a plastic cage. The attractant lures the moths into the trap, and killing fluid inside does the rest. I attached the attractant strips inside the plastic cages late one afternoon and hung them from the apple trees out behind our house. Then I started back through the dusk. What I didn't realize was that I had handled the attractant strips and the powerful chemical on it was all over my hands a Risking.
"Well, all at once the dusk around me was filled with the fluttering shapes of pales gypsy moths, their white wings beating against me as they settled around me like a cloud. I was charmed at first, because in the blue twilight their lacy white shapes seemed ghostlike, sad, and somehow lonely-and then I suddenly realized that they were all over my face as well. I must have rubbed my nose, and they were actually clogging it up!
"Panic set in, and what had seemed beautiful was suddenly deadly. , I slammed at my head and body and rubbed them off frantically. Perhaps there weren't as many as I thought, but they seemed overwhelming, stifling. When I finally got into the house, my wife helped me pick the survivors off, and I was actually shaking. "
The attractant Alan told us about is the latest effort to control the gypsy moth. It is an artificial duplicate of something called a pheromone, substance manufactured by female moths, irresistible to male moths. They home in on it as if it were a sexual beacon, their little antennas quivering. It's not a matter of choice. There is a system in these insects that simply cannot resist the call of the pheromones scan travel for miles, an unquenchable olfactory signal.
The pheromone was borrowed from the Greek in 1959 by German researchers to describe this strong attractant. It means to transfer excitement, and that is exactly what it does Effects And Stages, Jean Henri Fabre, the great French naturalist, discovered insect sex attractants back in the early 1800s, but he simply described some of their actions without exploring them deeply.
In the 1930s there were detailed studies of these strong olfactory signalers as a way of controlling insects populations. Since it was tremendously difficult to gather natural attractants, artificial analogues were developed.
Not only moths, but ants, cockroaches, beetles, butterflies, and many other insect species rely on odor to communicate their readiness to mate. When the female insect is sexually ready, she tends out her unique pheromone and the males flock to her, sensing the pheromone with their antennas, often from miles away. It is sexual chemistry in the most basic sense of the word.
The Animal World And Copulins
These irresistible odors that arouse the sexuality of the male, and in some cases the female, are not limited to the insect kingdom. Vertebrates, from fish to dogs, also rely on scent signals to mark territory, send out alarms, issue angry warnings, show aggression, and attract mates. Mice use their urine for sexual therapy . If a male mouse in a laboratory lets a few drops of his urine healing touch the cage floor, any female in a nearby cage will start her estrous cycle and become ready for mating. The signaling pheromone is in the urine, and the male mice can thus control the reproduction of the females.
Many other animals have the same sexual scent system, and the pheromone works both ways. In mice they ready the female for mating; in hamsters vaginal secretions with pheromones excite the males sexually. Labeling,Cats, rabbits, sheep, goats, deer, and dogs all have different systems for scent signaling. All are turned on in one way or another by individual pheromones.
This sexual reaction to odor is so universal that farmers often use an aerosol product that contains an artificial sexual pheromone in order to ready a sow for artificial insemination. If the artificial pheromone is sprayed where the sow can smell it, she will at once assume a rigid posture that would enable an aroused boar to mount her. The same rigid posture makes artificial insemination easier.
But as we rise higher in the animal world, pheromones, while still at work, become less important. In the primates the growing brain begins to fight the automaton like behavior that pheromones arouse. Dr. Richard P. Michael, a British psychiatrist, has studied odor reception in rhesus monkeys, and he has decided that vaginal odors play an important role in the sexual activity of the monkeys.
Dr. Michael and his associates found a substance in the money vaginas that occurred in the middle of the estrous cycle, when the female monkey was sexually ready to mate, and had the ability to sexually arouse the male monkey. They named the substance copulins and concluded that it was a pheromone and was nature's way of turning on the males when the females were particularly fertile.
But are the same of similar pheromones present in human beings? That has been a question under scientific study for years without any definite answers, although the evidence seems to indicated that they are present, and they do work.
A friend of ours, a science-fiction writer, told us of a plot of his that involved pheromones. "I have this guy from today go back in a time machine to the middle Ages, and the one thing that overwhelms him is the human odor. Nobody washed then, and at first he finds it horrible, but after a while he begins to get used to it, and then he begins to like it and react positively to it.
"My theory is that unwashed humans produce enormously powerful attractants, not only sexual, but on the level of friendship, aggression, and even hate. You just have to hate some people for their smell, while other smells make you love them. "
Our friend never did write his story, but his plot may have the answer to the argument about human pheromones and Beyond The Spoken Word. In today's Western culture -at least in America - we wash away every trace of odor from our bodies, and then we use deodorants to clean it even further.
Some years ago an extremely successful ad campaign for lifebuoy soap invented "B. O. " (body odor) as a tactic to urge people to buy their soap. B. O. was considered the very worst thing that could happen to you socially. Wash it all off!
But out society, so eager to sell through advertising, discovered that certain perfumes, when mixed with the natural pheromones of animals -musk from the musk deer, civet from the civet cat, and castoreum from the beaver-exerted a strong sexual attraction. The industry that had first urged us to wash off every trace of human pheromones now urged us to put on a perfume or toilet water laced with animals pheromones.