Communication through volatile chemicals is ubiquitous, and for insects, it is the dominant way information is sent and received. With such a heavy reliance on volatiles for host, mate, and threat detection, targeting this modality to alter pest insect behavior can be highly effective. For example, aggregation pheromones can be attached to traps in an attempt to stave off an outbreak, or compounds used for mate location can be installed to confuse target pests to prevent mating.
Understanding what compounds are involved in species interactions is the first step in the development of new treatments. A common way to measure the volatile chemicals released by an organism is to sample the air surrounding them. Once the biologically active compounds are known, synthetic blends can be made and further tested.