Why White Horses are Horsefly Proof
Many observant horse lovers will know that horseflies seem to avoid white horses.
Horváth, head of the Environmental Optics Laboratory at Eotvos University in Budapest, along with five colleagues conducted experiments on different coloured horses to attempt to solve the mystery.
The team took one white horse, one brown horse and one black horse and coated them in Babolna Bio mouse trap; a transparent, odourless and colourless insect monitoring glue.
The insect glue made the horses coats sticky, meaning that the horseflies landing on them would be trapped.
The scientists then took the ‘living fly catchers’ to a field in Szokolya, Hungary. Every other day they collected and counted the flies that had been attracted to the horse.
After 54 days of summer sun the scientists tallied up the results.
They found that the brown horse attracted 15 times as many flies as the white horse, while the black horse attracted a staggering 25 times as many horseflies.
The scientists concluded that the reason why white horses are ‘horsefly proof’ is connected to the way that light reflects off their fur.
When light reflects off dark horses it becomes polarised, vibrating in the same direction, attracting the horseflies.
When light is reflected off lighter horses it is less polarised, vibrating randomly, which is less attractive to the horseflies.
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