Moths are sometimes mistakenly considered less colored than butterflies. They come in various vivid colors but they also come in camouflage colors.
Moths can be nocturnal but they still need camouflaging coloring to stay away from predators. The following species have a distinct range of colors that makes them appear similar to leaves.
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1. American Lappet moth
This moth appears very similar to a leaf when its wings are closed. Both the colors and the irregular shape of its wings make it similar to leaves.
These moths can appear quite different from one another depending on their size. They can grow anywhere from 20 to 49mm in wingspan.
A rusty-brown coloring is specific to all American Lappet moths regardless of their size.
2. Cabbage tree moth
The Cabbage tree moth (Epiphryne verriculata) is known for its brown body with white horizontal lines. As its name suggests, it sits on dead tree cabbage leaves.
If disturbed, this moth flies away and eventually finds another dead tree cabbage leave to land on.
This moth is mostly found in New Zealand. It feeds on the New Zealand cabbage tree here.
To avoid being eaten by predators, this moth has developed a brown body with horizontal lines which exactly mimic the lines on the cabbage tree leaves.
Female moths are known for having a brighter body color with more intense white lines.
Males are known for darker bodies with faded white lines.
3. Autumn leaf
Native to Asia, Autumn leaf moths (Doleschallia bisaltide) have been known to resemble brown leaves when they have their wings closed.
This is a large moth that reaches a wingspan of around 85mm.
Its wings are mostly brown with orange and brown markings at the top ventrally. They exhibit small brown circular dots as well.
The ventral view of the wings can have a shiny aspect that resemble wet brown leaves.
Orange dominates the dorsal view of the wings. Brown markings are only present at the top of the wings.
Both males and females have a very similar look.
Grey-brown wings are seen underneath. This moth closes its wings when it wants to be confused with a leaf.
This species is mostly seen around urban parks and wastelands in parts of Asia and Southeast Asia.
A rapid flight and a direct flying pattern are characteristic of this species. The moths quickly escape but settle nearby on trees or walls to blend in with the environment.
This species (Gastropacha quercifolia) is known for having an atypical long snout. This is an adaptation that makes the Lappet moth look more like a leaf.
It has a brown color with dark brown veins which is rarely any different in nuance.
Its leaves expand up to 84mm.
The moth is known for having an atypical posture with front resting wings as opposed to other moths that look like leaves that close their wings up together.
Lappet caterpillars are seen from August until next year at the beginning of summer in May.
Once emerged into moths, Lappets become nocturnal.
5. Imperial moth
Common in the US, the Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) has a large wingspan between 80 and 174mm.
This moth is known for being tricolored. Adult Imperial moths are yellow, brown, and red.
Both males and females have variations of these colors that together look like leaves.
Males are further distinguished by longer antennae and extra purple markings.
Females have ovarioles and a wider abdomen as a result.
In terms of appearances, females tend to have more yellow coloring with reduced brown marking compared to male Imperial moths.
The larvae of these moths look completely different. The first instar is characterized by a mostly orange color.
Dark almost-black coloring with hairs characterizes the look of the second instar larvae stage.
Color changes from here to the fifth and final instar stage from brown to red and even green.
These moths emerge late in the season, towards the end of August. This wrongly led scientists to believe that there are 2 generations of Imperial moth initially.
6. Maple Spanworm moth
Maple Spanworm moths (Prochoerodes lineola) are also yellow and brown, similar to Imperial moths. However, Maple Spanworm moths have more brown coloring on their wings.
The species is found in states such as Texas, Florida, and Alberta.
All of these areas are homes to variations of Maple Spanworm moths in terms of coloring.
The moth is dominated by brown coloring but it also has yellow marks towards the inner side of the wings.
7. Uropyia meticulodina
This small moth is found all around the world from the US to Asia in countries such as China and Taiwan.
The species of moth is small but characterized by very good camouflage capacity.
It has a brown body, brown wings, and a brown underside. The moth is known for having the ability to curl up its wings to mimic curled-up leaves.
It prefers to hide on ground-level leaves in forests and parks as a result.
8. Fruit-piercing Moth
This species (Oraesia excavata) has made it to the US and it has even grown to large populations in remote areas such as Hawaii.
It’s mostly known for resembling brown leaves when its wings are closed together.
The moth is also known for having a distinct orange head which is camouflaged by its forewings.
Males and females are mostly distinguished by antennae. Pectinate antennae are seen in males.
The moth species are known for eating fruit juices as its name implies.
It’s found in multiple locations around the world with a late flight season.
These moths emerge in August and they fly in September and October. These months coincide with the fruit harvest season.
Moths of the genus are only known to emerge when the fruits are ripe and in abundance, towards the last part of the harvest.
This is an invasive species fruit growers need to deter from August onwards. Illuminating orchards have been used as a proven moth deterrent.
But covering the fruit trees is one of the classic methods of keeping these invasive moths away.
These are nocturnal species and a combination of orchard illumination as well as covering the fruits is considered the most effective method of preventing them from piercing the fruits.
9. Mountain Beech Flat Moth
This species (Proteodes carnifex) is mostly found in coastal habitats. It resembles sandy terrains and dry leaves found on these beaches.
The moth is characterized by a gray-yellow color with faded red coloring around the edges of the wings.
Its head has the same color as its wings which further increases its camouflage-like appearance.
First described in 1883, the Mountain Beech Flat Moth is native to New Zealand.
These moths are known for mating in high numbers. Female Mountain Been Flat Moths lay up to 300 eggs at once.
Eggs are laid under the leaves of beech trees which are used as a food source by larvae.
The larvae remain on the trees overwinter in preparation to emerge the following year.
Moths emerge early in the year during January. They are only seen flying in early spring until April.
These moths grow on beech trees and they resemble beech tree leaves which they are seen on most of the day.
Mountain Beech Flat Moth are diurnal and relatively easy to spot among the leaves during the day.
10. Variable Metallata moth
Part of the Erebidae species, this moth (Metallata absumens) is found in North America.
This species gets its name from the various colors it is known at, mostly shades of brown and gray.
Most Veraible Metallata moths found in the US can take the color of their environment essentially blending in with forests and parks.
When its wings are closed this moth resembles leaves. Light brown and dark brown coloring gives the moth camouflaging abilities when it sits on the leaves on the ground.
11. Omiza lycoraria
This moth species is part of the Ennominae family of the Omiza genus.
It was first discovered a couple of centuries ago in remote regions of Asia.
Today, it lives in forests and it’s known for its leaf-mimicking coloring.
Growing to a wingspan of more than 2 inches, the species is mostly dray gray in coloring.
This makes it almost impossible to distinguish when it lands on trees and leaves
In some areas of the world, the female of the species is almost completely brown further resembling leaves.
12. Dark leaf moth
The Dark leaf moth (Monoctenia smerintharia) has a wingspan of up to 60mm. The size of its body can be as large as 28mm.
Native to Australia, the moth is mostly seen in gum trees.
Larvae of the Dark leaf moth feed on the elves of gum trees.
Once it reaches adulthood the moth takes on an all-brown coloring. This makes it resemble dead leaves on gum trees.
The species is further distinguished by creating a tent-like shape when its wings are closed.
One of the distinct traits of the species is seen with its trailing edge wings which make it similar to leaves.
This species is also known for having monopectinate antennae as opposed to biceptinate antennate on most other similar species.
Small differences are also seen outside the filament coming from the antennae between the sexes of these moths.
For example, females are sometimes known for having more intense black stripes similar to veins on their wings.
13. Green fruit-piercing moth
The Green fruit-piercing moth (Eudocima salaminia) is part of the Erebidae family and one of the oldest recorded species of moth in India and across Asia.
Green fruit-piercing moths have been first described in 1.777. This old moth species is known for its dark green coloring when its wings are closed.
The wings of the species even curl up to further resemble green leaves.
When its wings are open, they are generally green and white, with an orange inner part and an orange abdomen. Its forewings have yellow-green coloring.
This moth gets its name from its ability to pierce fruit to suck sugary juices.
14. Oak hook-tip
Oak hook-tip moths (Drepana binaria) are endemic to Europe. There are differences in sizes and coloring between the sexes of the species.
Males have a 30mm wingspan while females have a 35mm wingspan.
Males are known for having an orange-brown color with yellow fascia.
Females also exhibit faded white markings on their wings as well as 2 black spots on each forewing.
These moths resemble a brown leaf when their wings are open.
15. Broken Leaf Moth
This species (Circopetes obtusata) gets its name from its ability to mimic broken leaves. Its wings are interrupted towards the abdomen.
This means it resembles a damaged or broken leaf.
Its physical appearance helps it stay safe in front of its predators, mainly various types of birds.
This moth has a gray-brown color which makes it hard to distinguish on trees.
16. Hibiscus Leaf Caterpillar moth
This species (Rusicada privata) is common in regions of Asia and Japan. As its name suggests, it spends most of its life around hibiscus flowers.
Hibiscus Leaf Caterpillar moths larvae feed on hibiscus flowers.
This had led to these moths looking exactly like hibiscus leaves and flowers.
The upper side of their wings is dark red like many hibiscus flowers. The lower side of its wings is mostly gray-brown.
Adult moths aren’t dependent on hibiscus flowers. They prefer to feed on fruits such as blueberry and blackberry.
17. Leaf Emperor
Common in Africa, Leaf Emperor moths (Pselaphelia flavivitta) are known for having a mostly yellow coloring on the wings.
4 eyespots are also identified on their wings. There are 2 eyespots on each wing.
This species is mostly yellow but the male is known for having darker colored wings.
Wings resemble yellow wings when open.
18. Pink Leaf Moth
The Pink Leaf Moth (Wingia lambertella) is endemic to Australia. It lives on eucalyptus trees which explains its vivid pink color.
These moths grow to a maximum size of 20mm.
Physical traits include pink forewings with yellow lines. Hindwings are yellow or bright yellow.
These moths have long thin antennae which are mostly black.
As caterpillars, they mostly live on eucalyptus leaves.
Pink Leaf moth caterpillars are brown-green.
These moths live in small nests covered in dead leaves.
19. Dry Leaf Looper moth
The Dry Leaf Looper moth (Idiodes siculoides) has gray-brown wings. Its thorax, head, and abdomen are also the same gray-brown color.
These moths are also known for having multiple gray markings.
Dry leaf Looper moth caterpillars and the eggs of the species have completely different coloring.
Caterpillars have a brown color. The round eggs of the species can be either pure white or faded pink.
As they turn into moths they start to morph into a gray-brown color.
These moths are highly common in areas of Australia such as Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria.
20. Patched Leaf moth
The Patached Leaf moth (Monoctenia falernaria) is endemic to Australia. It’s known for a pink-brown coloring that’s almost uniform without too many markings.
Its wingspan can reach 60mm.
The moth lives under eucalyptus trees. It’s here that it mimics the pink-brown colors of fallen eucalyptus leaves on the ground.
It’s almost impossible to distinguish dead eucalyptus leaves from the moth.
The underside of the wings also has a similar color.
Laying motionless on the dead eucalyptus leaves, the moth is hard to recognize as even its head and antennae have similar coloring.
21. Golden Leaf moth
This species (Wingia aurata) is part of the Oecophoridae family. It’s endemic to Eastern Australia.
It has a wingspan between 30 and 35mm as females are larger.
The Golden Leaf moth is known for its narrow wings in comparison to most other moths with wide wings.
It’s mostly a golden yellow moth with a pink thorax.
These moths resemble narrow leaves and can sometimes be seen in suburban areas.
Known for their nocturnal profile, Golden Leaf moths are mostly attracted by yellow lights in the garden or on the porch.
22. Common Gum Emerald
Common Gum Emerald moths (Prasinocyma semicrocea) are endemic to Australia. Typical habitats include Queensland, New South Wales, South, and West Australia.
These moths are one of the few species which maintain the same coloring from caterpillar to moth.
Adult moths have dark green coloring with brown wing edges. The green-red coloring is also seen on the Common Gum Emerald caterpillar.
The Common Gum Emerald moth doesn’t have uniform green coloring.
It has a faint bright zig-zag line on each wing.
These moths also have a green body.
First described in 1861, the Common Gum Emerald is part of the Geometer moth family.
This is one of the largest moth and butterfly categories defined by a few common traits such as the capacity to blend in with the environment.
Like other species of the Geometer moth family, the Common Gum Emerald has wavy patterns on its wings.
However, these wavy patterns are barely visible as they zig-zag across each wing.
- Butterflies that look like leaves.
- Moths that look like bees and wasps.
The atlas moth is considered among the largest moths in the world, along with species like the white witch moth, which can have a wingspan up to 14 inches, according to the California Academy of Sciences. Sightings of the creature in the U.S. are extremely rare – and were thought to be nonexistent until recently.
How big is the world's smallest moth? The current record holder is the Stigmella maya, and the forewing measures just 1.2 millimetres. It is found in Yucatan in Mexico. This species is part of a group called microlepidoptera - the smallest moths and butterflies in the world.