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Attractants and Repellants *

Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Animals respond to chemical cues in different ways. If an animal turns away from a chemical cue, then that chemical is a repellent. If an animal turns toward a chemical cue, then that chemical is an attractant. Attractants and repellents can be airborne chemicals, chemicals found in food, or chemicals that diffuse through water. One example of an airborne chemical is a pheromone, a chemical signal that is released by one individual to attract another. Moths release pheromones to attract mates, Japanese beetles release pheromones to attract more beetles, and ants release pheromones along an ant trail. Put a beetle in a cup with holes poked in it to see if it can attract more beetles. Wipe through a trail of ants with a baby wipe to see if you can erase the pheromone and see how long it takes the ants to recover the trail. Place some rotting fruit out to see if it will attract some fruit flies. Will artificial scented oils attract or repel insect? Try oils like cinnamon, citronella, orange oil, rose oil and almond oil. Which oils act as attractants and which as repellents? (Dashefsky, 1995, 2-3, 7-9)

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Science Buddies Staff. "Attractants and Repellants" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 30 June 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Zoo_p042.shtml>

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Science Buddies Staff. (2014, June 30). Attractants and Repellants. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Zoo_p042.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-06-30


Dashefsky, H.S. 1995. Zoology: 49 Science Fair Projects. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

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