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 coloured 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 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 of 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 accelerate 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 nearby 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 various stages of moulting and shedding of skin. The caterpillar eats the cuticle that remains after moulting and continues the process of feeding and moulting until 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 devoid 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 the imago, breaks out of the cocoon with a swollen abdomen and shrivelled 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 at BYJU’S Biology.

Frequently Asked Questions on Moth Life Cycle


How long does a moth live?

The lifespan of a common brown house moth is 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 the household 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?

Pigmy moth (Nepticulidae) that measures up to 3 mm are known to be the smallest moth in the world.


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