Arthropoda is the large phylum that contains insects, spiders, scorpions, mites and other bugs. It is the largest group of animals, with more than 1 million named species. Many more arthropods likely have not yet been discovered or named. Several arthropods have bright bands or stripes of orange and black colour. It is impossible to identify every bug based on colour alone, but several common species of black and orange bugs live in the United States.
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Count the bug's legs. Insects have six legs, while arachnids such as spiders and scorpions have eight legs. Several spider species are black and orange, including some orb weavers. Orb weavers can be recognised by their large, spiral-shaped webs built in sunny locations. Black widow spiders are black with red or orange markings on their abdomens, and may appear to be black and orange from a distance. These spiders are highly venomous and should not be handled.
Look for a curved stinger. Scorpions are arachnids with curved stingers on their hind end and pincers near their head. The striped scorpion is the only species of scorpion with black and orange stripes native to the U.S. It lives primarily in dry, rocky climates. This scorpion's body is black with an orange stripe running down the middle of its back and orange or brown legs and stinger. Though a sting from the striped scorpion is painful, it is not life threatening.
Check for wings. Several species of black and orange winged insects exist. Among the most common of these insects is the firefly. These animals attract mates by lighting up their abdomens in the dark. They are relatively small, with red or orange heads and eyes. June bugs also have black and orange stripes. They are most noticeable during the early spring when they fly conjoined to their mate. A winged insect with a stinger is most likely a wasp or hornet. The European hornet is common in the United States. It is black and yellow or orange with large wings and a noticeable stinger. Though these insects will relentlessly defend their nests against invaders, they are only aggressive when provoked and their stings are not life threatening.
See if the insect is a butterfly. Butterflies have large, feathery wings and an oval, slender body. The monarch butterfly is among the most common black and orange insects. They are distributed throughout the United States and can be seen in large groups during their annual fall migration.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid touching bugs you can't identify. They may be venomous.
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- "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders"; National Audubon Society; 1980
- "National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders and Related Species of North America"; Arthur Evans, Craig Tufts; 2007
- Missouri Department of Conservation; The Striped Scorpion; Michele Schlesinger