Painting Stripes On Cows Reduce Fly Biting By 50%, Study Says

photo credit: Tomoki Kojima / Plos One

According to a recent study performed by a group of Japanese researchers who painted white stripes on cows, doing so reduced flies biting the cattle by 50%.

photo credit: Tomoki Kojima / Plos One

Putting The Experiment To The Test

The study started with the theory that stripes painted on a cow may confuse a fly’s motion detection system that tells the fly if it’s a safe spot to land or not.

The researchers gathered and painted six Japanese Black cows with black and white stripes and had more cows that were not painted to observe for three days.

They kept a sharp eye on the cows with high-resolution cameras and took photos throughout the day to count how many insects hassled the cattle. They also looked to see if the cow expressed behaviors of trying to remove an insect. Like counting how many times it moved its tail, stomped its leg or twitched its skin.

photo credit: Tomoki Kojima / Plos One

Stripes Do Effectively Reduce Fly Biting

Objectively looking at the data, the study showed that the number of flies biting the cows was less than half on the cows that had black and white stripes painted on them.

“We found that painting zebra-like stripes on cows can decrease the incidence of biting flies landing on individuals by 50%,” according to the study’s findings. “We also found that the reduced landings of biting flies coincide with a reduction in defensive behaviors in cows.”

This information was remarkable because the livestock industry spends a lot of money using harsh chemicals like pesticides to prevent flies from biting the cattle. These chemicals hurt the environment, the cow’s health and the health of the human eating the cow.

Doing this experiment showed that there was a non-toxic alternative method that was possibly cheaper. Plus, not only did it free the cow from the pestering bugs but it also helped protect the environment, the health of the cow and the health of the human.