Using sticky plastic models with differently painted surfaces, researchers showed that zebra stripes painted onto the body can protect against biting insects. Relative to a striped mannequin, a brown painted model attracted 10 times more horseflies, while a beige one lured in twice the number as the striped figure.
The stripes likely make the skin less attractive to horseflies, the researchers reported January 16 in Royal Society Open Science. Some indigenous people paint their bodies, and those markings could provide some protection from the bloodsuckers and diseases they carry, according to the authors.
G. Horváth et al., “Striped bodypainting protects against horseflies,” Royal Society Open Science, doi:10.1098/rsos.181325, 2019.