Frank Bloem

Why butterflies can smell like chocolate

An article on the smells of butterflies by our in-house perfumer Frank Bloem

Nature is a magical wonder. Once we engage our senses to smell fragrances, we can perceive how scents are like butterflies: they appear, and when you try to really capture a sense of them, they are already gone. 



photo by Frank Bloem -

In the world of butterflies, scents are a common way of communicating. Yet their smells don’t come from the flowers they feed on. Rather it is a panoply of fragrances that varies from fruity floral notes to old cigar boxes, and from an unusually strong bat-like odour to the smell of a sable fresh from the furrier (source: Ologies). In this way, male butterflies produce an odorous secretion to seduce female butterflies. 

The American nose, business owner, and book author, Mandy Aftel was fascinated by the fragrances of butterflies. In her book "Fragrant" she explains why butterflies smell pleasant, not only for the other butterflies, but for the human nose too. In the 1920's, a researcher collected a complete list of smells of butterflies. Thanks to this, you can recreate an experience of such an aesthetic insect flying in your aura, a jasmine-iris-violet bouquet being diffused by his wings.

This is the list the researcher made up (also available in our Aroma Lab*):

Syringa blossom

Brown sugar*


Violet flower*

Mango flowers


Sweet peas

Orris root*

Cinnamon flowers

Jasmine like flowers*

Old cigar boxes


Newly stirred earth in spring

Rose flower*



There is way more to learn about scents. If you are ready to take a step further and let your creativity be driven by scents, there is a workshop for it: Make your own perfume inspired by the scents of butterflies in Open Aroma Lab

For more information about Mediamatic, visit the Mediamatic Biotoop website or join our Open Friday Tour!