Jump to main content

Attractants and Repellants

109 reviews


Areas of Science
Time Required
Short (2-5 days)
Material Availability
Readily available
Very Low (under $20)
No issues
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.


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)


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

Ask an Expert

Do you have specific questions about your science project? Our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.


If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

Career Profile
Ever wondered what wild animals do all day, where a certain species lives, or how to make sure a species doesn't go extinct? Zoologists and wildlife biologists tackle all these questions. They study the behaviors and habitats of wild animals, while also working to maintain healthy populations, both in the wild and in captivity. Read more
Career Profile
Chemical engineers solve the problems that affect our everyday lives by applying the principles of chemistry. If you enjoy working in a chemistry laboratory and are interested in developing useful products for people, then a career as a chemical engineer might be in your future. Read more
Career Profile
The role that the chemical technician plays is the backbone of every chemical, semiconductor, and pharmaceutical manufacturing operation. Chemical technicians conduct experiments, record data, and help to implement new processes and procedures in the laboratory. If you enjoy hands-on work, then you might be interested in the career of a chemical technician. Read more

News Feed on This Topic

, ,

Cite This Page

General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Attractants and Repellants." Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Zoo_p042/zoology/attractants-and-repellants. Accessed 7 June 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). Attractants and Repellants. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Zoo_p042/zoology/attractants-and-repellants

Last edit date: 2020-11-20
Free science fair projects.