© Kevin Cole
© Cary Bass
It’s almost Halloween, the time for orange and black: orange-and-black costumes, orange-and-black decorations, even orange-and-black candies. People favor these colors because it’s a tradition—or they’re watching a lot of TV on Netflix.
But what prompts some animals to cloak themselves in orange and black?
It’s Not Just For Tigers
Probably the most renown orange-and-black creature is the tiger, several species of which still run wild in Asia (although there are likely more tigers in captivity in the U.S. than roam wild). Closer to home there are ladybugs, butterflies, dragonflies, and birds that sport the same colors. Of the birds, the Baltimore Oriole is most famous;a baseball team shares its name and colors; though three other species of North American orioles are mainly orange and black: the Altimira Oriole, the Bullock’s Oriole, and the Hooded Oriole.
The bright orange-and-black coloration of these birds (and the tigers) helps them stand out when they’re in the open and want to be seen. Yet the coloration also helps the animals blend into their natural surroundings when they want to hide. That’s because the orange-and-black pattern breaks up their outline in grasses and trees.
“Look At Me!”
Meanwhile some other species use orange to stand out from the crowd.. For insects such as milkweed bugs and Monarch butterflies, bold orange and black colors flash a warning to would-be predators: “Don’t eat me! I’m poisonous!”. Kind of like too much candy….
After Halloween, most orange-and-black animals disappear from the American scene for the winter, only to return next spring. The decorations and costumes, on the other hand, won’t return until next fall.
Have you seen any other creatures in Halloween colors this fall?
Feel free to share your sightings below!