Insects With Yellow Stripes: Do They Sting?

Insects use color for several reasons. Some use it to indicate their presence from a distance, while others blend in with their environment to escape discovery.

Among the most common insects with yellow stripes are bumblebees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, hoverflies, cucumber beetles, cinnabar moth caterpillars, beetles wasp, cicada killers, robber flies, and five banded thynnid wasps. The stripes are for defense, camouflage, signaling and other reasons.

Predators learn to avoid such creatures by associating their vivid colors and striking patterns with danger. This type of warning coloration is frequently seen as yellow and black stripes.

Insects with Yellow Stripes

What is the importance of yellow stripes?

Insect colors aid in physiological adaptations, signaling, and bodily defense. Additionally, colors transmit a variety of messages. These channels are useful for classifying species, identifying individual characteristics, and illuminating ecological or evolutionary elements of an insect’s life. 

Social hymenopterans, including ants, wasps, and bees, have recently attracted an increased interest in color study. Many of the essential ecological services that these insects provide are provided by model research organisms. 

Here, we discuss the advantages of diverse color varieties to social insects.

We consider that the various roles of the black and yellow color play in insects can be boiled down to three categories:

1. Body defense

Color is mainly linked to noticeable outer appearance and harmful self-defense techniques in many social insects, especially wasps and bees. 

For instance, Polistes wasps’ toxicity level is correlated with the intensity of their black-and-yellow coloring. Many chemically undefended species started to resemble social insects in appearance and behavior as protection.

2. Signaling

The signaling role of color in social insects has been most investigated in wasps. For example, it has been demonstrated that Polistes paper wasps utilize color to judge a rival’s quality, select a mate, or recognize an individual.

It has been demonstrated that in Polistes simillimus, a male’s likelihood of finding a mate increased with the amount of black pigmentation on his head.

3. Physiological Reasons

The physiology of social insects is intricately linked to their coloration. Some species have been linked to UV light, humidity, and thermoregulation adaptations.

For wasps, the thermoregulatory and UV-protective properties of color were discovered. Darker individuals in Polistes wasps were connected to colder climate zones. 

Aglaia pallipes, a social paper wasp, and Vespula vulgaris both exhibit darker shades at higher latitudes. Dark-colored stingless bees tend to warm up more quickly than light-colored ones

Insects with yellow stripes

The alarming black and yellow color of most insects cause observers to move with caution immediately. However, this does not always mean they can or will sting if provoked. 

Below are several insects with the same color variation. Keep reading to find out what’s harmful and what’s not.

1. Bumblebees

The colors of bumble bees are easily recognizable. Even when taken out of context, the black stripes and yellow body immediately conjure images of the common bumble bee. 

The contrasting stripes on bumble bees warn bird predators because they hurt and taste rather bad. The bumble bee’s coloring serves to shield both the insect and the predator. Nature is trying to tell us, “Don’t even bother.”

2. Hornets and Wasps

Some wasps, like bumble bees, have evolved to send a message to potential predators that trying to devour them would be foolish. Not all wasps have stings, but they have the most vivid patterns. 

Non-stinging wasps often have less color variation and stripes. They evade predators by blending in, contrasting with their striped, stinging counterparts.

3. Hoverfly

The hoverfly evolved to resemble a bee or wasp that has a sting. Although these fruit-eating flies are entirely harmless and do not sting, they exhibit all the signs of a pest. Therefore, predators avoid hoverflies in the same way bees and wasps are avoided.

4. Cucumber Beetle

The yellow and black pattern of the tropical cucumber beetle is eye-catching. Ants threaten the cucumber beetle’s unhatched eggs, but after it becomes an adult, predators don’t bother it much.

5. Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

The larva of the cinnabar moth has the traditional black-and-yellow striped coloring. Therefore, any animal considering eating the caterpillar should probably look for another supper in light of these stripes. 

Although this caterpillar is not extremely harmful, it is unpleasant since it eats poisonous ragwort plants. The caterpillar then loses its color when it develops into a cinnabar moth.

6. Beetle Wasp

In addition to mimicking the wasp’s color and look, the harmless wasp beetle also moves like the wasp, jerking from side to side. This ensures that it quietly consumes flowers and hedgerows while giving the impression to predators that it is a wasp.

7. Cicada Killer

Does it sting? Yes, and will do so if seriously threatened. Human assaults are uncommon. These insects consume cicadas, as suggested by their name. Large black bodies with three yellow stripes across the back help identify them. It’s the wasps, not bees, that kill cicadas. 

Although they also build their nests underground, we recommend avoiding an area if you discover its nest on the ground in your yard. If you step on the nest, the wasps may become agitated and sting to defend themselves.

They can sting several times, and their stingers contain venom.

8. Yellowjackets

If you can, avoid this insect at all costs! Yellowjackets build their nests on the ground and are very aggressive. When consuming sweet things outside, such as candy or drink, be cautious to avoid getting stung on the lips by yellowjackets.

Do not try to harm or attack these creatures directly. Yellowjackets produce a pheromone when threatened, alerting other yellow jackets to join the attack.

Soon, your combat with it will involve numerous yellow jackets, which might be dangerous. The best defense against a yellowjacket is to walk and or run away from it.

9. Five Banded Thynnid Wasp

These wasps are medium in size and have long stripes. While females often have orange wings, males typically have white and brown wings. The young of these wasps will eventually eat the beetle they laid their eggs on. They frequently inhabit gardens and meadows.

The male five-banded thynnid wasp cannot sting as it has a fake stinger. However, the female can and will sting if provoked.

10. Robber Fly

The males do not have stingers, but they will inflict a terrible bite if they are bitten. Although robber flies resemble yellow jackets, they are aggressive exclusively toward other insects, including yellow jackets! 

They can be recognized by their vivid yellow and black markings and their distinctive facial “beard.” In addition, they have two yellow “eye” marks in the center of a black thorax. These flying insects are nothing to be terrified of!


Now you know which flying insects to ignore and which to avoid going forward. Let us know if you come across any flying insects with yellow and black stripes while you are out!

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