Zebras vs. The Blood-Suckers: Zebras Win

Without spending a dime on repellent, face masks or zappers, zebras rid themselves of flies.

They don’t even flick their tails. They simply wear stripes, according to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, who discovered horse flies hate stripes.

“Tests were carried out in Hungary using life-sized cardboard cut-outs of horses painted white, brown, and with stripes and spots.

“The models were coated with oil and glue to trap the insects.
‘We started off studying horses with black, brown or white coats,’ lead researcher Susanne Akesson from Lund University told the BBC at the time. ‘We found that in the black and brown horses, we get horizontally polarised light. From a white coat, you get unpolarised light.’

“Akesson explained that horse flies don’t like this type of light but surprisingly, in experiments, were found to hate striped coats even more. And the narrower the stripes, the more they kept away.

“She said: ‘We were expecting to find that a striped coat, having half of the coat covered with a black surface and half white to show intermediate attraction to the horseflies, but in fact it was as good or even better than the white surface in terms of attracting few horse flies.’

After she read about this revelation, Claudia Wide “daubed her black stallion with cattle-paint” on her farm in Weye, Germany. Her “cunning ruse to hoodwink horseflies” helped her beloved horse “enjoy a peaceful, bite-free summer.”

When the news gets around, there’s likely to be a run on cattle paint. However, we should consider other options too. A striped ensemble of blanket, face mask and leg wraps might become fashionable. People could avoid becoming the target by mimicking zebras with outfits that match their horse’s line of clothing.

Painting zebra murals on our barn doors might convince the naughty little critters to go bug someone else’s horses. Equipping our patios and doorways with striped screens could provide extra protection.

Zoe the Zebra The 2011 champ. Zoe, a Jack Russell terrier, is actually the two-time defending Anchorage, Alaska Howl-oween costume champion. Owner Holly Kennedy dyes the mostly white dog's hair.

Our dogs can wear stripes too, as demonstrated by Zoe the Zebra, the two-time defending Anchorage, Alaska, Howl-oween costume champion.

Perhaps we’ll even see classes in horse shows for the exhibition of the most realistic, sweat-proof stripes. If that happens, look for the price of zorses and zebroids to skyrocket.

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