In my story, there is a type of bee that releases a pheromone during mating season that is visible at night in brightly lit areas. This is similar to how you can see rain more easily at night if you look near a bright light source such as a streetlight.
After looking up pheromones, I understand that they are chemicals that are released as a way of triggering responses in members of the same species. They vary greatly in their uses: warning systems; mating calls; leaving trails; and so on.
Because these pheromones are often released into the air, I gathered that they must consist of particles of some kind.
To answer this question, I decided I needed the following information:
- Just how big are pheromone particles, on average?
This is vastly important to the question. I haven't been able to find anything on this. I was hoping to find the minimum and maximum sizes of different kinds of insect pheromones and then using their average as my baseline. In addition, surely these chemicals are composed of different molecules of varying sizes, so I would need to take that into consideration as well.
I was able to find this article, but the size of it and the amount of technical jargon stressed me out and simply hurt my brain.
So, assuming we get past the first hurdle of figuring out the particle size variation, the following question comes up:
- How dense would the pheromones need to be to see them?
After deciding on a size for the particles, I would need to know just how much of the pheromone these bees would need to release in order for the particles to be visible to a human under the nighttime lighting conditions described above.
For this question, let's define "visible" as being "very noticeable" or, for the sake of measurable criteria, 50% opaque or more.
So, fellow Worldbuilders, after trying to figure this out for several hours, I now turn my question to you:
Can an insect's pheromones be visible?
If the answer is yes, under what conditions can they become visible?
UPDATE: I thought of another way for them to be visible: The amount of pheromone you look through. If it stacks up, similar to fog in the distance, does this change its possibility? Perhaps for this version, even daylight viewing would be possible?