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MOTHS are generally dull coloured and fly at night, and are seldom noticed. But there are moths which are colourful, like the spectacular Atlas Moth above, and moths which are diurnal in habit. This section of the Picture Gallery displays some moths that I have encountered while out looking for butterflies. They were photographed in a by-the-way manner only when I happened to see them. Butterflies are still my main interest as photography subjects.

     While I have many reference books on Malaysian butterflies, my resources on moths are rather limited. If you can identify the species shown here, particularly those at the bottom of the page, I would be happy if you will kindly let me know the name of the species, or email me if I've got the identification or facts wrong.

     Please click on either the thumbnail image or the name of the species to see a bigger picture of the moth (or larva, in some cases). The picture opens in a new window. You can navigate to a limited extent within that window. After viewing it, close that window to return to this page.


Family Thyrididae

Telchines vialis

Telchines vialis is a leaf-mimicking moth. With many lines on its wings simulating leaf veins and a golden brown colour, this moth bears some resemblance to a dead leaf. This species is found in northern India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Family Limacodidae

Limacodid larva

This pretty larva of a Limacodid moth is armed with spines which can cause a nasty itch. I accidentally brushed my hand against this caterpillar while trying to photograph an insect, and it left a stinging sensation for hours on that part of my hand that had touched it.

Family Sphingidae

Ambulyx canescens

Ambulyx (formerly Oxyambulyx) canescens is considered a forest pest because its larvae feed on the leaves of young Dryobalanops lanceolata, a timber tree. This hawkmoth is found in Indochina, Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines.

Oleander Hawkmoth

The Oleander Hawkmoth (Daphnis nerii) has a very wide geographical range. This species occurs in the Afrotropical and Indo-Australian regions, and is known to migrate northwards to Europe. However, I have seen it only once.

Family Arctiidae

Nyctemera coleta

Nyctemera coleta belongs to a group of day-flying moths known as Marbled White Moths. It is a common species usually encountered in secondary growth. Besides Malaysia, it is also found in India, Sri Lanka to south China, Taiwan, the Philippines and New Guinea.

Wasp Moth

Amata huebneri is regarded as a wasp mimic with the common name of Wasp Moth. It is a day-flying species about the same size as a small wasp. This species was formerly known as Syntomis huebneri (subfamily Syntominae).

Handmaiden Moth

This is possibly Syntomoides (Ceryx) imaon. It is also a wasp mimic but is commonly known as the Handmaiden Moth. Like Amata huebneri, it is a day-flying species belonging to the subfamily Syntominae, but it is much larger than the former.


Leucoma sp

What drew my attention to this white moth is the satin-like gloss on its wings. This is a Leucoma sp., possibly impressa. Another completely white moth of about the same size found in Malaysia is Chasmina nigropunctata (Noctuidae).

Family Noctuidae

Yellow Underwing

Othreis smaragdipicta (Catocalinae) is a master of disguise that blends in perfectly with the detritus and green growth on the forest floor. Its common name of Yellow Underwing refers to its hindwings which "flash" to startle a would-be predator when it is disturbed and takes flight.

Ischyja inferna

Ischyja inferna (Catocalinae) is a leaf-mimicking moth that prefers to settle on the forest floor and "hide" among the dead leaves and other detritus. Its disguise would have been totally effective but for the bit of light blue on the hindwings which gave the moth away.

Asota caricae

Asota caricae (Aganainae) belongs to a group of moths commonly known as Tiger Moths. This species has a wide range and is found in the Indo-Australian region. The larval food plant is Ficus oppositifolia. The species has also been recorded as a pest of papaya.


Oreta sp.

This moth is another leaf mimic. It looks like a dead leaf that has fallen on a green (living) leaf in the forest understorey. A bit of forest detritus lying next to it makes the moth's disguise even more realistic. It is a species of Oreta, possibly bicolor (subfamily Oretinae).




Family Geometridae

Dysphania subrepleta

Dysphania subrepleta is a day-flying moth which I found drinking from the ground just like some butterflies (especially Papilionids and Pierids) have the habit of doing. The striking blue-and-yellow colour combination is possibly a sign that this species is poisonous.

Dysphania subrepleta

The same specimen of D. subrepleta as above. This shot shows the bright yellow body marked with blue bands. This species of moth could be easily mistaken for the Burnet Moth, Psaphis euschemoides, of the family Zygaenidae as it has similar wing markings.

Dysphania sp.

This is a another Dysphania sp., possibly sagana. Its wing pattern is different from that of subrepleta although it has the same blue and yellow colours. There are far fewer blue spots on this specimen. This photo was taken at the same locality but on a different occasion.

Dysphania sp.

Dysphania malayanus is a nocturnal moth (it flies at night). This one was probably a sick or injured specimen that I found one morning on grass-covered ground near a forest. It did not bother to fly away until I prodded it with a finger.

Geometrid moth larva

This larva of a Geometrid moth may look like a twig or bud to the casual observer as it sticks out at an angle to a real twig. This is possibly a form of mimicry employed by the caterpillar to disguise itself and avoid the attention of predators.

Milionia basalis

Milionia basalis is a day-flying moth of medium size; it has a wingspan of about 5-6cm (2-2.5 inches). The caterpillars feed on the leaves of some native coniferous trees that grow naturally at high altitudes, and in the lowlands where they are cultivated.

Milionia basalis

I photographed this Milionia basalis in the Cameron Highlands. When it settled on a marygold flower, I had then thought it was a butterfly. With its striking colours and the fact that it was flying in broad daylight, it was easy to mistake this moth for a butterfly.

Euxena albiguttata

Euxena albiguttata belongs to a group commonly known as the Emerald Moths. Their attractive green colour often fades to a dull yellow after death. Euxena albiguttata is found in Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Java and Sulawesi.

Celerena signata(?)

This subtly coloured moth looks like Celerena signata which has very similar light brown wing markings. It could be an old and faded specimen. While the ground colour of this specimen is off-white, that of C. signata is bright yellow as seen in mounted specimens.

Eumelia rosalia

There are more than a dozen species of Eumelea with colour ranging from yellow to orange and red. This one looks like rosalia, a fairly common moth encountered in secondary growth. E. rosalia is found in the tropical parts of the Indo-Australian region.


Family Uraniidae

Lyssa zampa

Lyssa zampa is a large moth commonly encountered in primary forests or secondary growth. It may fly into houses at night, attracted by bright lights, especially if they are close to wooded areas. The species is found in the Indo-Australian region. [The food plants are species of Endospermum (Euphorbiaceae) and not Eugenia malaccensis (Myrtaceae) Shen-Horn]

Acropteris iphiata

This moth has a weak flight, and when it flies, it looks like a small piece of paper fluttering in the wind. It is a species of Acropteris, but not iphiata which has distinguishing chestnut brown apical patches. (Could it be ciniferaria?)

Family Callidulidae

Callidula sumatrensis

The Callies (Callidula sumatrensis) are small moths which can be mistaken for butterflies because they not only fly in the day but also settle with their wings folded. Callidula sumatrensis may be found in well-shaded and damp undergrowth near streams.

C. sumatrensis

This is possibly a female Callidula sumatrensis looking for a mate. It had struck up an unusual pose with abdomen lifted up. I believe the tuft of fine hairs at the posterior was being used to disperse scents (pheromones) to attract males for the purpose of mating.

Sabah Moth

I photographed this iridescent blue moth in Tenom, Sabah, in March 1990. A visitor to my website, who is an expert in systematics and biology of oriental lepidoptera, has identified the species as Cyclosia macularis. (Thank you, Shen-Horn.)






INDEX : Insects   May 27, 2014 09:29:32 AM