In the summer months when it is too hot to use equine fly sheeting, which is like a light robe over the horse, it falls on the horse owner to find a way to stop mosquitoes, gnats, stable flies and horseflies from feeding on their horses. Some use HD-40, War Paint, CamphoPhenic, and some other ways to relieve this problem in the stable.
Horseflies are agile, good fliers and are very persistent. The area around the bite can become itchy and even swell if not immediately treated. They can carry equine diseases such as anemia virus and anthrax. There is also a parasitic filarial worm that can be transmitted to humans. Blood loss is a major concern because an animal can lose about 300 millilitres of blood per day. This amount can weaken and even kill an animal.
A veterinarian in Weye, Germany has come up with an idea to rid her horses of being bitten. Claudia Wide has found that zebras do not get bitten by horse flies. In doing some research she found that biologists in Budapest feel that horseflies are much less apt to bite a zebra hide than plain white or dark hides. They are less attracted to zebra stripes because of the reflection of light the stripes produce.
It is a matter of horizontally polarized light given off from the brown or black hides and unpolarized light from the white hide. As researchers at Lund University in Sweden found in their trials, horseflies hated the striped coat of the zebra even more and the narrower the stripes the better.
There are several theories as to why zebras have stripes. Although not tested there are such theories as predator camouflage, stimulating grooming, thermoregulation, and, a way of recognizing other herd members. Or did the fact that horseflies can actually kill cause evolutionary changes?
So, Claudia Wide, reading about this research, came up with the idea of painting these same stripes on her horses with cattle paint. She was happy with the results. Painting takes about thirty minutes and seems to work nicely to keep the horseflies away.