The striking world of moths of Thailand

Living in rural Thailand for a few years, I was fascinated by the diversity of moths and butterflies that I could see around my house. And as any naturalist would, I decided to attempt to understand and document it.

There are obviously many more species that you could see in any of Thailand’s national parks, but seeing the moths around my house gave it a more personal touch. Moths are some of the most underestimated animals in Thailand.

Some of the more visually striking moths in Thailand belong to the Hawkmoth family. Their name comes from the hawk-like shape of their wings which are designed to sustain rapid flight.

Moths of Thailand - Giant Arum hawkmoth
Giant Arum hawkmoth (Theretra nessus)
Moths of Thailand - Hawkmoth
Moths of Thailand - Impatiens hawkmoth
Impatiens hawkmoth (Theretra oldenlandiae)
Moths of Thailand - Oleander hawkmoth caterpillar
Oleander hawkmoth caterpillar

Even the caterpillars of hawkmoths are striking, like the Oleander hawkmoth caterpillar above. It feeds primarily on the leaves of oleander, which is obviously where the name of the moth comes from.

One of the giants of the moth world is the spectacular Thrith’s Emperor moth. Not as large as the Atlas moth, it is still quite impressive.

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Moths of Thailand - Thriths Emperor moth
Thrith’s Emperor moth

Slightly smaller are the Owl eye moth (Great Owl moth) and the Eyed rustic moth, both with a similar camouflage pattern of large ‘eyes’ on their wings

Moths of Thailand - Owl eye moth
Owl eye moth
Moths of Thailand - Eyed rustic moth
Eyed rustic moth (Spirama helicina)

Another interesting species is the Orange fruit piercer, which, as its name suggests, feeds on fruit by piercing its skin.

Moths of Thailand - Orange fruit piercer
Orange fruit piercer

And then, of course, there is the White Winged Red Costa Tiger Moth, that tends to look almost fluffy.

Moths of Thailand - Tiger moth
Tiger moth – Aloa lactinea
Moths of Thailand - Tiger moth catepillar
Tiger moth caterpillar

Identifying moths of Thailand

The diversity of moths of Thailand is truly astounding. No matter how many species you have already seen, there are dozens more to see in the same location. It is an entomologist’s paradise.

As a mammal specialist, I found it difficult to identify some of the less distinct species. The images below are a reflection of diversity rather than an identification reference, and some species are marked as Unidentified. Any tips on the ID of these species will be appreciated.

Moths of Thailand - Hypomecis cineracea
Hypomecis cineracea
Moths of Thailand - Unidentified species
Cleora alienaria 
Moths of Thailand - Psilogramma increta
Psilogramma increta
Moths of Thailand - Unidentified species
Meganoton nyctiphanes
Moths of Thailand - Unidentified species
Ischyja hemiphaea
Moths of Thailand - Unidentified species
Achaea janata
Moths of Thailand - Spaniocentra sp
Spaniocentra sp
Moths of Thailand - Trabala vishnous
Trabala vishnous
Moths of Thailand - Unidentified
Orudiza protheclaria
Moths of Thailand - Trigonodes hyppasia
Trigonodes hyppasia

Huge thanks to John Moore for his help in identifying some of the species on this page. You can see his stunning gallery of Thailand’s moth’s here.

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