Do zebra stripes confuse predators? Yes, but not necessarily the fast-running, four-legged kind. New research explains that the iconic black and white stripes zebras sport so well deter biting flies from landing on their coats. Instead of slowing down for a controlled landing as observed on experimental coats of a solid color, flies were recently observed to bounce off striped coats after failing to gauge the landing distance correctly. This study from Tim Caro at UC Davis and colleagues sheds fascinating light on why the zebra has stripes. I’m definitely wearing stripes next time the horseflies start descending.
Read the original study below and never think of zebra stripes in the same way again!
Tim Caro, Yvette Argueta, Emmanuelle Sophie Briolat, Joren Bruggink, Maurice Kasprowsky, Jai Lake, Matthew J. Mitchell, Sarah Richardson, Martin How. Benefits of zebra stripes: Behaviour of tabanid flies around zebras and horses. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (2): e0210831 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210831