Cows Painted with Stripes can Avoid Biting Fly Attack

Can the pattern on an animals’ coat affect fly attacks?

8 mins
What is it about?



Science and Maths

Zebras have a black and white striped pattern on their outer surface, which helps them to avoid enemy attacks, maintain body temperature, and avoid insect bites. Horse flies belonging to the family Tabanidae often bite animals to obtain blood. They usually attack livestock animals. Various recent investigations have reported that the black-white zebra pattern helps to dodge attacks from horse flies as they refrain from such surfaces. Biting flies tend to avoid sitting on black-and-white striped horse coats compared to simple coats. Horse flies pester cattle and cause critical economic loss by increasing the risk of injury and weight loss as animals strive to shake off their attack. It also causes an enormous increase in fly-resisting behaviours of cattle, such as tail flicking, head throwing, and feet stamping, resulting in decreased grazing, feeding, and resting time of the animals. The purpose of this study was to see if painting a zebra-like pattern on cows could reduce biting flies' attacks.