(CNN) – It’s probably not a practical solution, but painting cows to look like zebras would protect them from a lot of fly bites.
Japanese researchers took six cows with dark coats and gave them each black-and-white stripes, black stripes and no stripes.
With each paint job (or lack of one), they counted the number of times the cows reacted to fly bites during a 30-minute period.
When painted black and white, the cows suffered nearly 50% fewer bites, researchers found.
Past studies have shown that flies are less likely to land on black-and-white surfaces.
Researchers believe it's because the light distribution can mess with their depth perception and make it harder for them to land.
The research published in the journal PLOS One is significant because biting flies interfere with cows’ grazing, feeding and bedding.
Cows waste a lot of energy fending off the biting little critters, researchers say,
The new study could be key to improving their health and benefitting the economy.