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Insects That Are Yellow With Black Stripes

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Insects use color for a variety of reasons. Some use it to blend in with their surroundings to avoid detection, others use it to signal their presence from afar. Would-be predators typically associate bright color and contrasting patterns with danger and learn to avoid such animals. Yellow and black stripes are a common example of this sort of warning coloration.

Bumble Bee

Bumble bee coloration is iconic. Even taken out of context, the yellow body and black stripes quickly bring to mind the humble bumble bee. Bumble bees have a sting and they also taste pretty nasty, so their contrasting stripes serve as a warning to avian predators. The coloration of the bumble bee serves to protect both the insect and the predator. It is nature’s way of saying “don’t even bother.”

Wasps and Hornets

Similar to bumble bees, some wasps have evolved to carry a warning to predators that attempting to eat them would be folly. Not all wasps have stings, but those that do have the brightest patterns. Non-stinging wasps are typically duller in color and have fewer, if any, stripes. Their means of avoiding predation is to blend in, while their striped, stinging cousins, like the hornet and the yellow jacket, do the opposite.


While bees and wasps evolved to have a sting, the hoverfly evolved to simply look like it has one. These fruit-eating flies are perfectly harmless and have no sting, but they carry all the warning signs of an insect that does. For this reason, predators avoid hoverflies just as they would avoid bees and wasps.

Cucumber Beetle

The tropical cucumber beetle bears a striking yellow and black pattern. Although ants pose a threat to the unhatched eggs of the cucumber beetle, once this insect reaches adulthood, it is relatively unharassed by predators.

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

The cinnabar moth caterpillar displays the classic black-on-yellow striped coloration. These stripes are a warning to any creature thinking about eating the caterpillar that they should really find another meal. While this caterpillar is not particularly toxic, it feeds on poisonous ragwart leaves, making it highly distasteful. When the caterpillar becomes a cinnabar moth, it loses its color.

Wasp Beetle

The harmless wasp beetle not only mimics the color and appearance of the wasp, it also mimics its movement, by jerking from side to side. This makes it appear to predators as if it were a wasp and ensures that he can feast on flowers and hedgerows in peace.