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A New Meaning to ‘Paint Horse’

Studies show zebra stripes might work as a fly deterrent.


Of course everyone is fully aware of what zedonks, zorses, zonkeys, and zebroids are … ’cause zebras and zebra/horse (or donkey) hybrids are seriously full of The Awesome. Especially the infamous golden zebra .

What’s the big deal, you ask? They are all equids, just like horses, but way less domesticated and rideable.

According to an article, horsewoman Claudia Wide of Weye, Germany, believes zebras have a “one up” on horses, because zebras are able to naturally repel blood-sucking insects such as horseflies using their striped coat patterns. Instead of using the classic means of repelling the pests, Wide chose to use cattle paint and paint stripes on her horse to help deter horseflies.

Scientists appear to have accepted this theory

According to Blahó et al., authors of “Stripes disrupt odor attractiveness to biting horseflies: battle between ammonia, CO₂, and color pattern for dominance in the sensory systems of host-seeking tabanids,” published in the July 2013 edition of the journal Physiology & Behavior, flying insects such as flies and mosquitoes use visual cues to help find their next meal. Apparently, such flying insects find zebras have “reduced optical attractiveness” compared to solid colored animals. The study authors concluded, “This result demonstrates the visual protection of striped coat patterns against attacks from blood-sucking dipterans, such as horseflies, known to transmit lethal diseases to ungulates.”

But painting every horse in your herd every day is likely not feasible, so I have to ask: Why not try zebra flysheets? Or, because I like get-rich-quick schemes, I should figure out how to create a modified car wash-/horse chute-like system that horses simply walk through to be automatically painted every time they are turned out … if you want in, let me know!

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