Disease spreading insects have been a plague to mankind since we first emerged on earth, and the threat they pose to the modern public should not be understated. Scientists all over the world are currently scrambling to develop methods of protecting human populations from disease carrying insects, most notably mosquitoes. Such research is essential to the prevention of a future vector-borne disease epidemics that could be far more devastating than the recent Zika outbreaks. Some of these methods are quite unorthodox, such as releasing genetically modified mosquitoes into the environment in order to render larger populations sterile. However, researchers have recently stumbled upon what is perhaps the oddest form of mosquito-bite prevention to have ever been documented. Apparently, decorating one’s body with particular types of body paint is effective in preventing bites from mosquitoes.

In numerous areas of the world, especially in Africa, their still exists indigenous tribal populations that decorate their bodies with paint. As it happens, this cultural practice may be useful for preventing bites from disease carrying insects. As many people may assume, disease carrying insects are abundant in the particular areas where the cultural practice of tribal body painting exists. Disease carrying insects, like bloodsucking horseflies, mosquitoes or tsetse flies pose a serious threat to indigenous populations that do not have access to bug repellents like DEET or other such protective measures. However, Swedish researchers found that white stripes that are painted on peoples’ bodies as a tribal custom actually work quite well as a method of deterring diseased bugs from biting. A study showed that a brown-colored mannequin attracted ten times as many horseflies as the same colored mannequin decorated with white stripes. Also, a beige-colored mannequen attracted twice as many bloodsuckinng insects than a beige mannequin adorned with white stripes. Based on this study, the practice of body painting provided past and present human populations with a form of protection from bites inflicted by diseases bugs.

Does reading about the above described study make you want to decorate your body with white-striped body paint?