Moths

Noctuid Moth

Noctuidae moth © Michael Plagens

Dark gray to nearly black with tree bark pattern. The head is concealed beneth the prothorax. Many similar species.

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Cutworm Moth

An adult cutworm moth from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Adult cutworm moth at electric light. The caterpillar likely feeds on farm crops or pasture plants.

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Mossy Moth

 f. Noctuidae, © Michael Plagens

Resembles a piece of bark covered with fine green and brown mosses. Length of resting moth 14 mm.

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Bird Dropping Moth

Acontia moth from Kerio Valley, Kenya, Africa.

These little moths (there are several kinds) resembe the dropping of a bird and this is a strategy not to be eaten.

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Owlet Moth

A Noctuidae moth from Nairobi, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Lawns are often littered with fallen leaves; this moth resembles such a leaf for predator avoidance.

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Catocolinae Moth

An African Noctuidae moth from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

When this moth rests on a tree trunk it disappears from view by camouflage.

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Owlet Moth

An owlet moth, family Noctuidae from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Many species of moths resemble dried leaves.

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Owlet Moth #6

Noctuidae resembling piece of bark moth © Michael Plagens

Many trees shed bits of bark and this moth resembles such a piece. The head and antennae are concealed.

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Owl Moth

Erebus, f. Noctuidae, © Michael Plagens

This very large moth has a pair of false-eyes on the forewings. Wingspan almost 10cm.

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Eutelia Moth

Euteliinae, f. Noctuidae, © Michael Plagens

When sitting this moth contorts the wings and body. Looks like a piece of tree bark.

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Sundowner Moth

possibly Sphingimorpha a Noctuidae moth, South Nandi, Kenya, Africa.

Wing and body shape of a sphinx moth. Pale stripe along the midline.

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Tiger Moth

Erebidae/Arctiidae from Kerio Valley, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Many tiger moths are brightly colored. This one has a red abdomen while the wings are brown with distinct white spots.

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Tiger Moth

A tiger moth, family arctiidae from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Many tiger moths are brightly colored or are otherwise not camouflaged. Often distasteful or even toxic for birds to eat.

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Lichen Moth

Eilema sp. Lichen Moth from, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Many kinds of lichen moth most with pastel pinks, yellows, red and grays. At lights at night or sometimes flowers by day. Wingspan about 25mm.

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Lichen Moth

Lithosiini Lichen Moth from, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

This silky white moth also appears to be a lichen moth. Active during daylight at Nairobi National Park. Wingspan about 15 mm.

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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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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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Wasp Moth

A wasp or clearwing moth from Olesossos, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

This is a small species, less than 10mm wingspan.

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Clear-winged Moth

A Sesiidae wasp or clearwing moth from Kitale, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

This wasp-like moth is harmless and does NOT sting. It belongs to the family of Sesiidae. The larvae bore into stems of certain plants.

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Geometrid

Kerio Valley, Kenya, Africa.

Delicate mothes which are mostly nocturnal and lack functional mouthparts. Seen at lights.

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Inch-Worm Moth

Geometridae moth from Kakamega, Kenya, Africa.

Mostly medium-sized moths which often perch wings appressed to substrate. Tree bark patterns. Many species. Larvae move by looping along an inch at a time.

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Geometridae

Handsome Geometridae moth © Michael Plagens

Hundreds of Geometridae moth species each with a unique pattern resembling a leaf or piece of plant detritus.

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Emerald Moth

Emerald Moth, Geometridae, Kenya, Africa.

Perfect shades of green, perfect for hiding on green foliage. Many similar species.

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Emerald Moth #2

Emerald Geometridae moth © Michael Plagens

A similar emerald moth from Kakamega Forest.

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Yellowed Leaf Moth

Yellow Geometridae moth © Michael Plagens

During the day moths must hide - this one might appear to be a yellowed, fallen leaf.

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Scoopwing Moth

possibly a  from Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

It is easy to see in this moth that there are two pairs of wings. The lower wing wing pair is twisted around.

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Geometridae ???

possibly Geometridae moth © Michael Plagens

A male for sure with the large feather-like antennae. The scales are orange and abundant for a geometer.

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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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Nudaurelia

Nudaurelia silk moth Saturniidae © Michael Plagens

A large, beautiful silk moth from Kakamega Forest.

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Tagoropsis

A silk moth, Tagoropsis, family Saturniidae from Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Large nearly all pale yellow silk moth with network pattern of pale brown lines. No eye spots.

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Pyralid Moth

possibly pyralidae moth, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Many pyralids have a wingspan of 10 to 15 mm. This one was seen at lights like many other moths.

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Pyralid Moth

Pyralidae moth © Michael Plagens

When disturbed this moth may drop, looking like an inanimate piece of leaf. Wingspread about 9mm.

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Pyralid Moth

pyralid moth from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

The spots in the wings look almost transparent. There's a row of small spots on the abdomen.

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Yellow-Brown Crambid

a brown and yellow pyralidae/crambidae  moth, Limacodidae, Kenya, Africa.

This small moth, wingspan 12mm, attracted to lights in Kakamega Forest.

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Crambid Moth

A Cramididae moth from Mombasa, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Small moths with a snout-like projection from front of head. Often resemble bark or pieces of leaves.

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Grass Moth

A Cramididae moth from Mombasa, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Many species of small moths look similar to this one. Note the long palps that look like a snout.

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Grass Moth

A Cramididae moth from Mombasa, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

This moth's pattern is designed to cause confusion! Where is the head and which direction will it fly?

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Tortrix

Tortricidae moth from Kakamega, Kenya, Africa.

Small moths which often resemble a piece of dried leaf. Larvae of many are 'Leaf Rollers' while other tunnel into fruits.

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Grape Leaf Folder

a grape leaf folder, Desmia, Eldoret, Kenya, Africa.

Conspicuous pattern of black with white spots. When alighted abdomen is often curved upward.

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Slug Caterpillar Moth

adult slug moth, Limacodidae, Kenya, Africa.

This small moth, wingspan 20mm, is adult form of the stinging slug moth caterpillar.

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Plume Moth

possibly the Lantana Pterophoridae Lantanophaga, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Small, delicate moth with feathery wings. Wingspan about 10mm.

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Leaf Skeletonizer

Zygaenidae moth © Michael Plagens

This small moth sits calmly in the open because it may have be toxic. Long setae on antennae.

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Goat Moth

Goat moth from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, photo © Michael Plagens

Heavy bodied moth with long wings and dark, net-like veins visible.

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Emperor Moth Larva

probable a Saturniidae larva, Nairobi, Kenya, Africa.

Large caterpillar with contrasting black and white rings and sharp hairs. There are several emperor moth species in Kenya.

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Pallid Emperor

pallid emporer larva © Michael Plagens

These large, vividly marked caterpillars with long hairs were super-abundant near Nyeri.

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Silkmoth Larva

possibly a Saturniidae larva, South Nandi, Kenya, Africa.

Large caterpillar with numerous sharp spines. Given the size and armourment I'm guessing this to belong to a silkmoth.

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Hemileucine (?)

a Saturnidae larva from Magadi Rd., Kenya, Africa.

Brightly marked caterpillars usually imply a strong defense capability - stinging hairs in this case.

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Prominent Moth

larva stage of a Notodontidae moth, South Nandi, Kenya, Africa.

Last pair of prolegs extend posteriorly. Bright colors suggest toxicity.

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Tussock Caterpillar

Lymantriidae larva © Michael Plagens

One or more groups of longer, erect hairs on the dorsum may include stinging hairs.

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Tiger Moth Caterpillar

Arctiidae moth larva © Michael Plagens

Tiger moths come in many species (several adults above) and many of their larvae resemble this one with tufts of hairs. Many are also toxic to birds.

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Wooly Bear

larva stage of a tiger moth, Arctiidae, Kenya, Africa.

The very long hairs act as a feeding deterent for many insect-­eating 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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Butterflies


Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 13 March 2017
updated 5 May 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.