For years, scientists have asked themselves why zebras have stripes. Many have speculated that they are a defense against predators such as lions. However, it appears that the mystery of zebra stripes has finally been solved; the primary purpose of zebra stripes is to repel horseflies.
While it is widely-known in the scientific community that horseflies and other insects prefer animals with dark skin to animals with white skin, a study published this week in the Journal of Experimental Biology examines evidence that zebra stripes actually discourage horseflies from biting. Prior to the study, researchers thought that the primary purpose of zebra stripes was to confuse predators. However, the study suggests that predator confusion is secondary to horsefly deterrence.