• Why Zebra Stripes Deter Flies

  • Baby-Zebra-zebras-24515215-400-400


    The following is a short article printed in an April issue of THE WEEK magazine that is worth reprinting for horse owners who suffer with flies.

    Zebras’ fly repellent

    “Biologists since Darwin have debated this riddle: Why do zebras have stripes? A probable answer is flies don’t like stripes. Scientists examined several leading stripe theories that the color contrasts keep zebras cool, attract mates, provide camouflage, or create a visual effect that confuses predators-to determine which was the likeliest. Researchers looked at the strip pattern variations in the three species of zebras, noting the thickness, location, and intensity of the markings. They then compared the species’ geographic ranges with those of tsetse flies(note our tsetse blog) and horseflies along with predators like lions and hyenas while mapping the distribution of forests and other environmental factors. The findings revealed that the zebras’ territories overlapped with areas where the biting flies were most active. “Again and again, there was greater striping on areas of the body where there was more annoyance from biting flies,” University of California, Davis wildlife biology professor Tim Caro tells ScienceDaily.com. Researchers noted that zebras have shorter hair than other hoofed African mammals, making them more susceptible to insect annoyance. Their next riddle: Why do stripes deter flies?”

    fly is confused where to land

    fly is confused where to land

    Our Answer suggests that the close proximity of light and dark surface is confusing to an insect that gravitates to light. And this is the principle of the HorseFlyNet® which creates large areas of shade for our horses to escape the fly.