Why do zebras have stripes? A Japanese research team has found that applying a zebra-like pattern to the bodies of cows helps scare away flies and their irritating bites, potentially slowing the spread of disease.
For cows on cattle farms, this measure, unusual as it may seem, would also help reduce stress on the animals, according to scientists from the Aichi Agricultural Research Center and Kyoto University.
Productivity is crucial for ranchers, so I want the method to help not only in Aichi Prefecture, but also throughout Japan.
Tomoki Kojima, chief researcher at the center’s Livestock Division’s livestock laboratory.
Kojima learned that ranchers had had problems with insects biting their animals when he worked in a section that supports people who raise pets.
Horseflies, stable flies, and other insects can cause leukemia and other conditions, while pain and itching can increase stress on cows, leading to growth problems.
Reading a treatise showing how a zebra’s stripe pattern keeps bugs away, Kojima began an experiment with cows. He took pictures of the animal at Higashiyama Zoo and Nagoya’s Chikusa Ward Botanical Gardens with his family to study its design.
In the study, a cow was painted as a zebra by sectors of its body, with the idea of confirming which one received the most insect bites.
After 30 minutes, one side of his body was photographed to count the number of insects on the skin.
The results showed that 128 and 111 insects were found on average on the surface of untreated and black-striped cows, respectively.
However, the zebra-painted cow was attacked by only 56 insects, about half.
Kojima noted that the stripe design apparently makes it difficult for flies to land on the skin. He is currently researching how to prevent the streak from fading between June and October, when horseflies and other biting insects are most active.
Will it work in humans too? ????
More information: journals.plos.org