Science

Why do zebras have stripes? They make bad landing strips for flies

Why do zebras have stripes? They make bad landing strips for flies”

Have you ever wondered why a zebra has stripes?

But the markings also hold another advantage, scientists have discovered, after finding they disorientate bothersome bloodsucking horse flies.

The video footage showed while flies slowed down substantially before landing on horses, when they approached zebras they failed to decelerate, often crashing into the zebra and ricocheting off. He found horseflies had no problem spotting either group, but they were bad at landing on the striped horses. They use their tails to bat them away and, when flies do land, they don't stay long because zebras move around a lot. That factoid would be that the stripes on a zebra are to help camouflage the animals inside the herd, so predators have a harder time catching a meal. In a new study, researchers at the University of California Davis performed a series of experiments that investigated how stripes altered the behavior of biting insects. Researchers both watched the animals and filmed them, recording the number of horseflies-which bite animals to obtain blood-that hovered nearby.

The research is reported in the journal PLOS ONE.

They say the black and white stripes may be there to stop flies from landing on the creatures. Now most scientists agree that the function of a zebra's stripes is to ward off biting flies. Only five flies landed on the horses dressed in zebra coats during a 30-minute period, whereas more than 60 touched down on those in the solid black and solid white coats in the same time period.

"Horse flies just seem to fly over zebra stripes or bump into them, but this didn't happen with horses". Zebras swish their tails nearly continuously during the day to keep flies off; they stop feeding if bothered by them; and if the flies are particularly persistent, the zebras will run from them.

Flies approach zebras animal with the intention of landing and drinking the zebra's blood.

"Stripes may dazzle flies in some way once they are close enough to see them with their low-resolution eyes".

African horse flies carry diseases such as trypanosomiasis and African horse sickness that cause wasting and can be fatal.



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