A recent study led by researchers from Hungary and Sweden showed that painting body with white strips provides protection against the insect bites.
Majority of the native communities who do body-painting reside in areas where there is are plenty of bloodsucking mosquitos, horseflies or other insects. These insects have the capacity to aggravate the risk of transfer of parasites, bacteria & other pathogens.
Professor Susanne Akesson told that the origin of body-painting is still unknown. He said: “Body-painting began long before humans started to wear clothes. There are archaeological finds that include markings on the walls of caves where Neanderthals lived. They suggest that they had been body-painted with earth pigments such as ochre.”
Researchers painted 3 plastic models of humans of three skin tones for the experiments. One was painted beige, one dark, and the other dark with pale strips. The models were covered with a layer of insect glue. The model with dark paint appealed 10 times more horseflies than the one with pale strips and the beige one attracted double amount as the striped one.
They also scrutinized if there was any variation in the attraction of insects between the positions of the models whether they were standing or lying down. The result revealed that only females were attracted towards the standing models whereas both genders were pulled towards the supine models.
Susanne Akesson concluded: “These results are in line with previous experiments in which we showed that males gravitate towards the water in order to drink and land on surfaces that reflect horizontal, linear polarised light, such as signals from a water surface. 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.”