Near- and sub-wavelength photonic structures are used by numerous organisms (e.g. insects, cephalopods, fish, birds) to create vivid and often dynamically-tunable colors, as well as create, manipulate, or capture light for vision, communication, crypsis, photosynthesis, and defense. This review introduces the physics of moth eye (ME)-like, biomimetic nanostructures and discusses their application to reduce optical losses and improve efficiency of various optoelectronic devices, including photodetectors, photovoltaics, imagers, and light emitting diodes. Light–matter interactions at structured and heterogeneous surfaces over different length scales are discussed, as are the various methods used to create ME-inspired surfaces. Special interest is placed on a simple, scalable, and tunable method, namely colloidal lithography with plasma dry etching, to fabricate ME-inspired nanostructures in a vast suite of materials. Anti-reflective surfaces and coatings for IR devices and enhancing light extraction from visible light emitting diodes are highlighted.