To repel pesky insects ... just paint stripes on yourself?
If you don't like the idea of applying conventional insect repellant to your skin, but you still don't want to get bitten, there could be new hope on the horizon. According to a study conducted in Hungary, you may be able to ward off bugs simply by painting white stripes on your body.
In collaboration with colleagues from the Institute for Natural Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, scientists from Sweden's Lund University recently conducted experiments with three full-size plastic human models – one was beige, one was dark brown, and one was dark brown with white stripes painted on it. All three were also covered with a layer of insect-trapping glue.
After these were left in a meadow for several weeks in the summer of 2015, it was found that the striped model had attracted far fewer horseflies than the other two – the beige model attracted twice as many, while the unstriped brown model drew in 10 times the amount.
This didn't actually come as a huge surprise – the researchers had previously determined that the visual pattern of zebras' striped hair also repels the insects. It is additionally suspected that the striped body paint used by various aboriginal tribes may inadvertently serve as a type of repellant, although it first and foremost serves a cultural purpose.
Interestingly, it was also found that while horseflies of both sexes went after the plastic models when they were placed lying on the ground, only females landed on them when they were standing up.
"These results are in line with previous experiments in which we showed that males gravitate towards water in order to drink and land on surfaces that reflect horizontal, linear polarized light, such as signals from a water surface," says Lund's Prof. Susanne Åkesson. "Females that bite and suck blood from host animals respond to the same signals as the males, but also to light signals from in the vertical plane, such as the standing models."
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Source: Lund University