The conventional way of ridding cows of biting flies is through the use of pesticides, but this is a toxic, expensive option. In Japan, researchers have come up with a strange, yet effective way of repelling flies that doesn’t require any pesticides: painting cows with zebra-styles stripes.

According to a new study published in PLOS ONE, painting stripes on cows reduced the number of flies bothering cows by 50 percent. The idea is that stripes may indeed confuse insect motion detection systems that control whether flies approach or land on the striped animal. After three days of observing the cows’ physical behaviors and snapping high-resolution photos of the cattle at various times to count the number of insects pestering the cows, the researchers discovered that the striped cows suffered far less from flies than their non-striped friends.

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