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October 9, 2019 05:10 am

Cows Painted Like Zebras Attract Fewer Flies

Slashdot reader ClickOnThis writes: An article on CNN reports results from a team of Japanese researchers who discovered that painting cows to look like zebras makes them less attractive to biting flies. I think they're a shoo-in for a 2020 Ig Nobel Prize. From the article: "A team of Japanese researchers recruited six cows and gave them each black-and-white stripes, black stripes and no stripes. They took photos of the cow's painted right side, counting the number of bites as they happened and watching how the cows reacted. While unpainted cows and cows with black stripes endured upward of 110 bites in 30 minutes, the black-and-white cows suffered fewer than 60 in the same period, researchers found. Zebras' stripes have more than aesthetic value; they help fend off bloodsuckers. Past studies have proven flies are less likely to land on black-and-white surfaces -- the polarization of light impairs their perception, so they can't properly decelerate, researchers wrote." The downside is that ranchers would need to spray down their cows multiple times a week for best results. "But fewer bites would improve the health of the cows, which would benefit the economy," reports CNN. "Plus, subbing in paint for pesticides would benefit the environment and human health, too, researchers said." The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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