Moth Life Cycle


Moth falls under the family Arctiidae that includes over 11,000 species of moths. Moths belong to the order Lepidoptera, which have dark colored wings with multiple orange, red and white stripes on the wings. These wings are attached to a thick furry body. Also called tiger moth or Isabella tiger moth, the moth has a wingspan up to 50 mm. Compared to other insects found in household situations, moths are docile and do not physically harm human beings.

Let’s look at the life cycle of a moth to understand these insects better.

Life Cycle of a Moth:

1) The Egg – Stage 1 –

After mating, the fertilized female lays eggs near an area with plants. The embryo develops inside the eggs over a period of 30 days. A female moth can lay up to 50 eggs in two weeks. The amount eggs laid by the female moth varies depending on the species.

Within 30 days, the larva develops inside the egg and takes around 7 to 10 days to grow. Proper environmental conditions like warm temperature and humidity accelerates the growth of the larvae into a caterpillar embryo.

2) The Larvae (Caterpillar) – Stage 2 –

The newly hatched caterpillar or larva feeds on the shell it has come out for proteins. Later the caterpillar feeds on all nearby plants as the female moth laid the eggs near by plants.

When a larva hatches, it is called its first instar. With each passing instar, the caterpillar grows bigger. Like other insects, the caterpillar also undergoes stages of molting and shedding of skin. The caterpillar eats the cuticle that remains after molting and continues the process of feeding and molting till it enters the pupa stage.

3) The Pupa – Stage 3 –

The caterpillar has the ability to spin a type of silk that it creates from its own proteins. Later the caterpillar spins this silk around the shell which is called a cocoon. Inside this cocoon, the moth transforms from pupa to a fully developed moth with wings. The similar pupa stage in butterflies is referred to as chrysalis. Breaking down of tissues known as histolysis occurs during the pupa stage. Here the moth is void of feeding and does not move. After two weeks or so, the caterpillar transforms into a moth with wings and comes out of the cocoon.

4) The Adult – Stage 4 –

Here the fully grown moth, also known as imago, breaks out of the cocoon with a swollen abdomen and shriveled wings. This happens because of the fragile wings of moths that delays the time for moths to come out of the cocoon. Once the fragile wings of the newly born moth become more firm and rigid, the moth flies out in order to feed and mate. The life expectancy of a moth varies depending on the kind of species. Some species live for weeks, some live for months and the others live up to 10 weeks.


In most of the cases, an adult moth does not survive for more than a year. Reasons for inability to survive range from unfavourable weather conditions to inevitable predators. An average adult moth measures up to 3 cm, but there are other species of moth that are larger in size.

To learn more about moths and other insects, register by BYJU’S Biology.

Frequently Asked Questions on Moth Life Cycle

How long does a moth live?

The lifespan of a common brown house moth lives around 13 months. But the lifespan of moth varies from one species to the other.

What are miller moths?

Moths that are mostly found in household situations are called miller moths. In parts of Arizona, the common ‘miller’ is called the adult stage in army cutworms.

What is the name of the largest moth in the world?

Atlas Moth found in parts of South asia is known to be the largest moth in the world.

What is the name of the smallest moth in the world?

Nepticulid Moth that measures up to 0.1 inch is known to be the smallest moth in the world.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *