: a common, harmless king snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) chiefly of North and Central America that is either ringed with bands of black, red, and yellow or white or is gray or tan with brown, black-bordered blotches and a Y- or V-shaped marking on the back of the neck
… the remarkable similarity between the venomous coral snake and the harmless milk snake, which mimics the coral snake's colors to protect itself. The tricky difference between the two brightly color-banded snakes is summarized by the saying: "Red on yellow, kill a fellow; red on black, friend of Jack."—Robert Hughes
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