Cows painted like zebras to fend off flies

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(CNN) — Some cows recently underwent a paint job to make them look like zebras and what researchers found is that they did better at fending off flies than their unpainted counterparts.

Studies show that flies are less likely to land on black-and-white surfaces — meaning the striped coats may help prevent biting horse fly attacks. Researchers believe it’s because the light distribution can mess up their perception.

To test the theory, cows were painted to look like zebras and then Japanese researchers counted the bites. They found that black cows painted with white stripes experienced 50-percent fewer fly bites.

The research is significant because biting flies interfere with cows’ grazing, feeding and bedding. Researchers said cows exert lots of energy by grouping together to ward off flies, which increases their risk of heat stress and injury.

So, the new study could be key to improving their health and benefiting the economy.

Results were published October 3 in the scientific journal ‘Plos One.’

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