Black fly camouflage

Black fly camouflage
Do zebra stripes help keep horses from getting bitten by black flies? Claudia Wide in Weye, Germany, is testing the new theory by adding stripes to her horse.

Yesterday when I was out hacking Zelda, a black fly the size of a B52 landed on her butt, resulting in a bucking fit of other worldly proportions. Can’t say that I blamed her — that sucker must have stung! — and I was lucky to have a riding companion who directed me to toward the offending bug so I could help Zelda zap it while staying on her back.

Today I came across an innovative solution to keeping your horse safe from black flies: camouflage! Apparently horse flies do not like striped coats because of the way that light and dark stripes reflect light.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden conducted tests that showed that horse flies prefer the flat, horizontally polarized light produced by darker coats.

Flies are less drawn to lighter colored horses but they dislike stripes the most.

The article I read did not reveal whether the horse painted to look like a zebra was bothered less by the flies after the experiment. Before I paint stripes on Zelda, I think I’ll wait and see.

Have you found a way to discourage horse flies from biting?

5 thoughts on “Black fly camouflage

  1. This is an interesting theory. Though I’m not sure if I agree so much? Or maybe the flies here in Australia aren’t prejudice! Lol. I used to have an appaloosa who would gallop around the paddocks due to the horseflies biting him. He was a chestnut with a big white spotty blanket. The flies would only attack his brightly coloured rump. I also had a dark bay mare at the time who would watch him running around with amusement. She never got attacked!

  2. I’ve seen those zebra fly sheets and have been curious. I think my hunter/jumper barn might explode if I painted stripes on my horse, ha.

  3. Hi,

    I have painted my horses this year and it worked in Ottawa Canada.

    I have a Grey and white paint, Dark Chestnut Blanket appaloosa and a Brown welsh pony.

    The horse/deer flies were relentless horses were running around non stop sweating away the fly spray. They tear off blankets or I would have painted the blankets. I used Sheep paint and it worked VERY well! Instantly they stopped running and started eating, stomping 90% less and not running stressed. I cant speak for everyone but it worked for my 3.

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