I’ve often wondered why I don’t get fleas. Some other cats do and of course dogs, uggh, are riddled with them. I’ve just found a possible answer.
The Journal of Experimental Biology contains a report of research carried out by a team led by Gabor Horvath of Eotvos University in Budapest into the reasons why zebra are less troubled by the tsetse fly than other African herbivores. Being short of tsetse flies and zebra the researchers substituted horse flies and cut outs, some black, some white and some striped for the African originals and set them up in an Hungarian field full of horse flies.
It’s long been known that horse flies trouble black horses more than white ones and the research showed the horse flies were even less enthusiastic about striped targets, especially those showing zebra type patterns.
The researchers think it is because the horse flies have difficulty in seeing vertical polarised light and therefore the vertical stripes on zebra make the zebra as good as invisible.
What a strange world. If all creatures were covered in vertical stripes it would be the death of many insects.
I couldn’t help but think that fleas probably have the same black preference problem with their vision as horse flies and that is why I am seldom troubled by them.
- How The Zebra Actually Got Its Stripes [Science] (gizmodo.com)