Butterflies

Tagiades Skipper

A Skipper Butterfly from Kakamega Forest © Michael Plagens

Skippers have clubs at antennae tips but also a small hooked appendage off the club.

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Striped Policeman

Striped Policeman Skipper Butterfly, Coeliades forestan, © Michael Plagens

Robust skipper with golden brown legs and dark brown wings. White spot is on underside of hindwing. Common and widespread.

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Elfin Skipper

a hesperiidae from Kitale © Michael Plagens

A dark brown skipper with lighter maculations. Perches in open with wings held flat. Hooked antennae.

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Charcoal Elfin

an Elfin Skipper from Eldoret © Michael Plagens

A charcoal-colored skipper. Perches in open with wings held flat. Hooked antennae. Same species as the one to left?

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Eretis Skipper

Eretis buamba from Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Several shades of felty gray make for a handsome butterfly at Kakamega Forest.

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Borbo Skipper #3

A brown skipper at flowers, Menangai Crater, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

View of reverse side shows a few small white spots. Tierra brown.

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Acleros Skipper

skipper, Hesperiidae, © Michael Plagens

The image shows the underside of wings with a large, bright, silvery-white spot. Remainder brown and gray.

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Metisella Skipper

skipper, Hesperiidae, © Michael Plagens

Golden orange spots on a rich brown background. Wingspan is about 17mm.

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Orange Sprite

Celaenorrhinus galenus from Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

With even more brilliant golden orange spots on a rusty brown background. Kakamega Forest.

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Gold-banded Forester

Gold-banded Forester butterfly © Michael Plagens

Wing span of about 6 cm with gold, blue and black. Alights on forest pathes. Underside almost uniform brown. Lower elevations.

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Orange Forester

Euphaedra rattrayi © Michael Plagens

Central disc is bright, brick red surrounded with a black border. Within the black border are smaller white spots. Variable.

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Widespread Forester

Euphaedra medon © Michael Plagens

This Euphaedra was flying in close proximity to the Orange Forester (left). The species are polymorphic and very confusing!

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Garden Commodore

Garden Commodore, Precis archesia, Nymphalidae., © Michael Plagens

Medium-sized butterfly with dark chocolate brown disc encurcled by two shades of yellow-orange bands. Wingspan about 5 cm.

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Gaudy Commodore

Gaudy Commodore an African butterfly © Michael Plagens

Medium-sized butterfly marked with concentric blue, orange and white on a dark background.

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Gaudy Commodore

orange color form, Precis ctavia, © Michael Plagens

This is the bright orange seasonal form of the butterfly to the left, i.e. they are the same species!

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Common Pathfinder

Common Pathfinder Butterfly, Vanessula milca, © Michael Plagens

So called because it frequents the open ground along forest pathways. Wingspan about 30 mm.

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Painted Lady

painted lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui, © Michael Plagens

Cosmopolitan butterfly largely orange-brown with markings in black, pink, and white. Eye spots on undersides of wings.

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Red Admiral

Abyssinian Red Admiral, Vanessa abyssinica, © Michael Plagens

Darker orange bands along the hind wing margins and lighter orange across the forewings..

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Natal Pansy

Garden Commodore, Precis archesia, Nymphalidae., © Michael Plagens

Base color is rich brown. Small eyespots along margin of hindwing. Four wings marked with red and white. Wingspan about 5 cm.

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Hannington's Fritillary

Issoria hanningtoni, Nymphalidae., © Michael Plagens

Butterfly of mountain meadows and trails. Golden yellow-brown with black markings.

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Common Leopard

Common Leopard an African butterfly © Michael Plagens

Wing span of about 5 cm of bright orange marked with black spots and filigree border. Common and widespread.

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False Fritillary

a bright orange nymphalidae from Kakamega Forest © Michael Plagens

Bright, burnt orange with numerous faint darker chevrons. Frequently alights on ground in sunny patches.

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Vanessula

Orange-patch Butterfly, Vanessula milca, © Michael Plagens

Rather small brush-footed butterfly; wings bordered brown and bright orange around center disc.

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Spotted Joker

Joker Butterfly, Nymphalidae., © Michael Plagens

Medium-sized butterfly with wing span of about 5 cm. Boldly spotted with black and orange.

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Little Commodore

Junonia sophia © Michael Plagens

Narrow, almost black border all around a central area of yellow and rusty brown. Medium sized, wingspan almost 3.5 cm.

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Sailer

Orange-patch Butterfly, Vanessula milca, © Michael Plagens

Background is nearly black upon which are bold, white patches. Small, less than 7 cm wingspan, flying in open woodland.

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Large Variable Diadem

Hypolimnas dinarcha © Michael Plagens

Part of a mimicry complex - but notice the squared tip of forewing. Golden bronze hindwings.

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Cheif

Chief Butterfly, Amauris echeria, © Michael Plagens

Looks similar to the Diadem, but notice the bent antennae and rows of pale spots along hindwing margins.

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Yellow Pansy

Yellow Pansy, Junonia hierta, © Michael Plagens

Wing pattern of yellow and dark brown. A pair of bright blue spots on hindwings can be more or less hidden.

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Dark Blue Pansy

Widespread and common African Butterfly, Junonia oenone, © Michael Plagens

Large blue spots in centers of hindwings on dark brown background. Frequent at flowers.

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Brown Pansy

Brown Pansy, Junonia stygia, © Michael Plagens

Rich gray-brown and reddish brown in concentric bands. Also a band of small eyespots all around. Alights often on ground.

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Soldier Pansy

Widespread and common African Butterfly, Junonia terea, © Michael Plagens

Yellow or pale yellow bands on a background of dark brown. Small eyespots along hind wing margin.

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Lurid Glider

Lurid Glider, Cymothe lurida, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Sexes are dimorphic. The male of this species has dorsum mostly cream color.

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Lurid Glider (underside)

Lurid Glider, Cymothe lurida, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

When perched the dorsal pattern is concealed and only a dead leaf pattern is revealed.

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Club-tailed Charaxes

Butterfly, Charaxes zoolina, © Michael Plagens

Two short tails on hindwings. Faint markings on rich golden brown, a bit paler below than above.

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Green-Veined Charaxes

Green Charaxes from Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Lime-green highlights on leading edge of forewings. Comes often to damp soil during dry season. Powerful flier.

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Giant Charaxes

Charaxes Butterfly, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Upper wing surfaces are dark brown with broad swatches of pale yellow. Underside has an intricate pattern of red, white, black and burnt orange.

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Hillside Brown

Common Pathfinder Butterfly, Vanessula milca, © Michael Plagens

Bright orange-red eye patches in forewings and hindwings. Flits about close to ground.

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Banded Evening Brown

Gnophodes butterfly, © Michael Plagens

Thanks to the community of photographers on Flickr.com I now have an accurate identification of this leaf-disguised butterfly.

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Satyr Butterfly

Tropical Wood Satyr, Bicyclus sp., © Michael Plagens

Upper surface nearly uniform brown. Some species with eyespots. Tends to fly in shady areas below trees. Does not visit flowers.

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Satyr Butterfly

Tropical Wood Satyr, sp., © Michael Plagens

In this species even the undersurface is nearly uniform brown, with only faint markings. Flies among shadows in forest.

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Bush Brown

Bicyclus, Satyrinae, from Mombasa, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

The color and shading of a dead leaf. Flies close to ground and lands below trees with more dead leaves.

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Notched Brown

Notched Wood Brown, Bicyclus, © Michael Plagens

These butterflies keep to shady, dappled light areas along forest paths. Series of eyespots on underwings.

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Mimic

Mimic, Hypolimnas misippus, from Mombasa, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Widespread tropical butterfly with several very different color patterns. This is a common male pattern.

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Mimic

Mimic, Hypolimnas misippus, from Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Widespread tropical butterfly with several very different color patterns. This is a common female pattern.

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Mocker Swallowtail

Amauris species, Nymphalidae:Danainae, © Michael Plagens

The dosal wing surfaces are boldly marked with black, white and beige. The underside here is much subdued.

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Acraea Butterfly

An African Acraea Butterfly, Nairobi, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Languid flight. This one is drably colored, black, white, gray and transparent wings. Distinct black spots in white areas.

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Small Orange Acraea

Small Orange Acraea Butterfly, Lampides sp., © Michael Plagens

Top surface is mostly orange with back around borders.

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Johnston's Acraea

possibly Acraea johnstoni, Nairobi, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Slow flight and leathery body. Müllerian mimic of Amauris butterflies. Semi-transparent spots in forewings.

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Pea Blue

Small Blue Butterfly, Lampides sp., © Michael Plagens

There are many kinds of blues mostly less than 25 mm across. Top is blue-gray and underside is a chevron pattern of gray and blue.

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Ciliate Blue

Butterfly, Anthene sp., © Michael Plagens

View of underside. Three short tails on hindwings. Male appears darker than the female.

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Clover Blue

Clover Blue Butterfly, © Michael Plagens

Very small butterfly that stays close to ground level. Small white spots on black. Underside is beige.

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Babul Blue

Azanus, Lycaenidae, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

The underside of the wings have an array of black spots on a light gray-blue background.

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Pied Pierrot

Tuxentius, Lycaenidae, © Michael Plagens

Pied, meaning black-and-white; like India on white linen. Small butterflies often seen at damp soil on ground.

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White Blue

Silvery white with black striping lycaenidae Butterfly, © Michael Plagens

Distinctive Lycaenidae. Underside view. Kitale. Wingspan about 15 mm.

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Bush Blue

Cacyreus © Michael Plagens

Quite small butterfly with complicated pattern of gray-brown on underside wings. Frequent at moist soil.

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Branded Blue

Uranothauma hairstreak, © Michael Plagens

The reverse side of the butterfly has inticate checkers of dark brown on white whereas the top is mostly coppery brown. Small, wingspan about 2cm.

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Woolly Legs

Woolly Legs Butterfly, Lachnocnema from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Small butterfly with earth-toned markings and normally not at flowers. Stays near bugs that are prey!

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Citrus Swallowtail

Papilio demodocus from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Short tails on hindwing margin. Rows of yellow spots on dark olive-brown. Large butterfly.

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Apple-Green Swallowtail

Papilio phorcas, © Michael Plagens

Large, distinct tails on the posterior margins of the hind wings. Large, quick flier.

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Dotted Border

Dotted Border Butterfly, Mylothris sp., © Michael Plagens

White, yellow and orange butterflies with distinct black dots arrayed along the wing margins. Several species.

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Sulfur Butterfly

Small sulphur Butterfly, Pieridae, © Michael Plagens

Wingspan is less than 25 mm. Underside has very faint pattern.

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Grass Yellow

unknown species of Pierid Butterfly, © Michael Plagens

Small, wingspan about 2cm. Brown patch at tip of forewing. Kitale.

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African Clouded Yellow

African Yellow Butterfly, Colias sp., © Michael Plagens

Mostly yellow butterfly with faint pink marins of wings and some dark markings on wing upper surfaces..

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African Caper White

Belenois aurota © Michael Plagens

White with black lined veins and borders. Seasonal variation in width of black lines and shades of yellow-orange.

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Belenois White

African White Butterfly, Belenois sp., © Michael Plagens

White with black lined veins and borders. There are several similar species of Belenois.

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Orange-tip Butterfly

Smokey Orange-tip Butterfly, Colotis euippe, © Michael Plagens

The tip of each forewing is brick-orange. The width of black bands is variable and may be completely absent. Wingspan is less than 40 mm.

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African Golden Arab

African Wood White Butterfly, Leptosia alcesta, © Michael Plagens

The ground color can vary from dark yellow to golden orange. Also called Double-banded Orange.

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Flip-Flop

African Wood White Butterfly, Leptosia alcesta, © Michael Plagens

Very eratic floppy flier seen moving close to ground in understory of secondary woods. Small, wingspan < 2 cm.

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Moths

Cabbage Tree Emperor

large Silk Moth from Kilifi, Kenya, Africa, photo © Helvi Rissanen

Large moth sometimes at lights. Wingspan 10+ cm. Rich burgandy color. Eyespots on hindwings.

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Wasp Moth

wasp moth from Kerio Valley, Kenya, Africa.

Wasps can sting. Moths cannot. This wasp look alike can visit flowers mostly unmolested.

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Ctenuchina Moth

possibly an African Ctenucha-like moth, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Bright orange marks on irridescent blue-black. Day-flying moth is probably toxic to birds.

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Slug Moth Caterpillar

Limacodidae larva © Michael Plagens

Colorful, often fanciful larvae of a moth - many species and patterns. Stinging hairs make them hazardous to touch!

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More Amazing Moths - Next Page!


Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 2010-2017.

By no means am I an expert on the Natural History of Kenya. I am a novice exploring this part of the World. By creating a page for the species as I encounter them I am teaching myself. If I make errors I wish that a kind person will let me know so that I can make corrections.