Stylish and Repels Horseflies?!

It may only be a matter of time before we start seeing zebra print on a whole range of summer horse wear including fly sheets, bandages, boots, fly veils and perhaps even rider wear all thanks to Swedish and Hungarian scientists. I'm pretty delighted about this as I love animal print, so not only will it be fashionable but practical too! 

The scientists and researchers recently discovered that horseflies find zebra stripes, in particular the thinner and densely packed stripes, extremely unappealing and they tend not to land on zebras at all! 

Typically zebras have a striped pattern to which acts as a camoflage against prediters. Firstly the stripes of a zebra blend in with the lines of the tall grass around it. It doesn't really matter that their stripes are black and white and the grasses are yellows, browns and greens as the zebras main predator, the lion, is colourblind. Secondly, when a group of zebras are together, the stripes of the zebra blend into the stripes of the surrounding zebras. This is said to confuse lions as once the zebras start moving it gives the appearance of a large mass of stripes running away, and the lion is unable to pick out one individual to chase. This tactic also works to protect the younger, older and more vulnerable members of the herd. 

Without getting too "sciencey", light is reflected from horses coats and those with dark coats give off a 'flat' light which is most attractive to the horseflies. They found that the stripes on the other hand reflects the light in a certain way which confuses and deters the horseflies. 

Two types of experiments were carried out. In the first oil filled platters were placed in an area with a high horsefly population. Each platter was painted either black, white, and varying different stripes. The black platters caught the most flies, and the platters with the thinnest black and white stripes caught the fewest. The thinnest stripes were almost identical to those found on zebra faces and legs! 

In the second experiment model horses were painted either black, brown, white and zebra print and then covered in glue to trap the insects. During the course of 59 days the black horse caught 562 horseflies; the brown horse caught 334; the white horse caught 22 horseflies and the zebra model caught only 8! 

They are looking into additional aspects that may play a role in horsefly protection such as smells and movement ... so watch this space for their results! 

So what does this mean for you and me, the average riders and horse owners? Well, it may mean that we may be seeing more zebra pattern rugs and horse wear during the summer. I'm excited to see which of the rug manufacturers take all this on-board and come up with the first scientifically proven horsefly repelling rug! If they could make a nice little jacket or bit of riding wear for me too then even I'll be even happier! 

**Just a note, I'm no actually that obsessed with animal print that I cover my horse in it. Instead, I save it all for myself! hahaah**

More information can be found here :)

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