Researchers tested their theories on 6 Japanese Black cows by painting zebra-like stripes (A), painting only black stripes (B) or unpainted (cC).
Results discovered that the zebra-cows to have over 50% fewer biting flies on their bodies than those in the control group, with no significant differences between the black-striped cows and the controls. They also saw a decrease in fly-repelling behavior in the zebra-striped cows of around 20%. Fewer biting flies were landing on them, and they were less bothered by them.
Artifical stripes could be used as a better way to combat biting flies than traditional pesticides. As well as being cheaper, the stripes are non-toxic and healthier for livestock, as well as better for the environment.
Biting flies are serious livestock pests that cause economic losses in animal production. Painting zebra-like stripes on cows can decrease the incidence of biting flies landing on individuals by 50%.
This work provides an alternative to the use of conventional pesticides for mitigating biting fly attacks on livestock that improves animal welfare and human health, in addition to helping resolve the problem of pesticide resistance in the environment.
Stripes may cause a kind of motion camouflage targeted at the insects’ vision, confusing them much in the way that optical illusions.