How Long Do Moths Live And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on July 28th, 2022

65-90 days is the exact answer (Approx)

Moths are found in a wide range of habitats. They may be found anywhere from marshlands and gardens to dunes and mountain summits, making it difficult to imagine they have such a short life cycle.

Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) in the night"r"n

What exactly is a moth?

Moths, butterflies, and skippers are members of the lepidopteran superfamily. This suggests they have a common ancestor known as “archaeologist.” The name Lepidoptera is derived from the Greek words ‘leps,’ which means scale, and ‘pteron,’ which means wing.

This is exclusively true for butterflies; while most moths have scales, some do not, such as some Geometridae species (the group comprising 11 percent of all species of Lepidoptera).

There are 135 moth families worldwide, with over 160,000 distinct species. The size of moths varies widely; some are as little as 1.5-2.0 mm, while the Atlas moth may have a wingspan of up to 25cm.

Moths are nocturnal insects, which means they are active at night and sleep during the day. Some species, however, are crepuscular, meaning they are only active at dawn or dusk.

Males will fly in pursuit of mates; however, females will never leave their resting posture until pushed to by wind or other conditions, such as fungal infection or predation.

Different moth species utilize strategies to attract mates, such as pheromones (chemical odors), sound production and vibrations, and so on. To evade predators, certain species, such as the ghost moth, rely on camouflage rather than messages.

What Is the Life Expectancy of a Moth?

The larval, pupal, and adult stages all contribute to the entire life span. The life duration of moths varies depending on the species. Moths of certain insect species may live for a few days or weeks, while others have an adult life span of 8-9 months. This demonstrates how their lives may differ. A typical moth’s life cycle is as follows:

  1. The Egg Stage: An adult moth may lay between 50 and 60 eggs simultaneously. The egg represents the beginning of the moth’s life cycle. These eggs hatch around 5-10 days, depending on the temperature and humidity of the locality.
  2. The Larval Stage: There is no set time limit for how long this stage lasts. Sometimes a larva transforms into a cocoon in as little as two months, while other times, it might take up to two years. This is the most destructive phase, as larvae are highly hungry, feeding on food, clothes, crops, etc.
  3. The Pupal Stage: The pupal stage can last anywhere from 8 to 50 days. In high temperatures, larvae develop into pupae.
  4. The Adult Stage is the most innocuous stage because moths cannot feed or drink; this goal is to locate a mate and create young moths. Some moths’ adult stages can last only a few days, while others can survive up to ten months.

Adult Life Expectancy

Marking studies indicate that winged adults of many (and maybe most) species live about a week or two, with the male living a few days less than the female.

However, other generations’ adult life expectancy may be significantly higher. Adults that emerge in late summer or early fall in certain species hibernate and overwinter in a secluded location. Monarch butterflies that hatch in the autumn move south in the fall and north in the spring. Adults of this species can live for up to 8-9 months.

Total Life Expectancy

The whole life span comprises time in the larval, pupal, and adult phases. The yearly “flights” for each species are listed in Butterflies and Moths of North America. A flight represents a generation of adults.

Thus, if a species has “two flights from May through September,” it signifies that one generation will emerge from the pupal stage in the spring and a second generation will emerge in the summer. The actual months of emergence are determined by latitude. The life lengths of these two generations will be substantially varied depending on the species’ winter survival strategy.

If the spring flight is derived from eggs deposited in the fall by the previous year’s summer flight, the spring flight has a life span of 10-11 months.

However, because of the increased temperatures, eggs deposited by those adults in May/June mature considerably faster, and adults emerge in around 2-3 months, resulting in a total life span of 312-4 months for the summer trip, or less than half that of the spring flight.

However, suppose the species has adults of the summer flight that overwinters. In that case, the spring flight originates from eggs produced in the spring, and the summer flight is the longer-lived generation in this scenario.

Not every species has two flights a year. Some species, particularly those in the north, only have one flight each year, for a total life span of roughly a year.

Because of the exceptionally short growing season and a shortage of good quality food for the larval stage, certain Arctic butterflies are thought to have a two-year life cycle.

However, some desert species, which ordinarily have a one-year life cycle, may hibernate as larvae or pupae for up to seven years while waiting for enough rainfall to assure the host plant’s development.

On the other hand, Southern species may have several fast-developing but short-lived generations each year.

Finally, among the numerous species spread throughout a large latitudinal zone, it is fairly unusual for northern populations to have one or two flights per year. In contrast, southern populations have multiple flights per year.

In certain circumstances, the number of flights is regarded taxonomically relevant; for example, the Eastern and Canadian tiger swallowtails are now classified as distinct species, owing in part to the fact that the Canadian species has only one flight every year. In contrast, the Eastern species has 2-3.

Average Life Expectancy

People frequently inquire about the “average” life span of a butterfly or another species. This question is completely different from the above one since it necessitates information on age-specific fatality rates.

This is not known for free-roaming Lepidoptera (or indeed for most wild animals). All that can be said is that only a small percentage of larvae survive to maturity. Therefore the average butterfly life span or life expectancy is far less than the estimates provided above.

Moths: How Long Do They Live in a House?

Inside a house, you will often encounter two varieties of moths. Some moths spend their entire lives inside someone’s home. Then there are the wild moths that come inside the house for various reasons.

Adult moths in the wild do not stay in a house for long. Their lifespan is quite brief, and living inside a house does not affect them because they don’t get hungry or consume anything like adults. However, the lifetime may be reduced slightly because of the increased stress, decreased darkness, and lack of refuge.

As adults, only a few moths eat. However, the plants and blooms they eat are rarely found within a human dwelling. Furthermore, it is much more difficult for them to find a good spouse for mating in such regions. As a result, even if they stay inside the house, they will not last long.

These wild animals may find their way inside your home in need of shelter. Or they may be drawn to bright light and end up there by accident. They will seek for dark, moist areas to hide throughout the day. If you want to discover wild moths within your home, your best chance is to search in the attic or basement.

However, several moth species are virtually exclusively found in human residences and will continue to breed there. While individual moths will die due to this approach, the infestation will remain.

Species such as the carpet moth and pantry moth receive their names from the objects they prey on in the home.

Carpet and clothes moths deposit their eggs on carpets, closets, and rugs, among other places.

This is because these species’ caterpillars (larval stage) feed on fibers such as wool, cashmere, silk, and so on—the eggs hatch in four to ten days. Depending on the temperature, they may survive as caterpillars for 2 to 30 months. This is when they do the majority of their damage.

Adults live for a much shorter period. Within 2-3 months, they will try to locate a partner and lay eggs. Adults are generally harmless, but they can potentially cause a bug infestation.

So, the length of time a moth will spend inside your home is determined by the moth species. It will not live long if the species is normally found in the wild. They will, however, spend their whole lives in a house if they are residential species.

Why do moths live for such a long time?

Moths have a fairly limited lifespan as a species. No doubt, a few of them have a longer life span, but on average, most moths do not. Moths are extremely delicate and sensitive. They require a certain environment to develop and increase.

Moths like warm and dark places to dwell and breed. Some moths are light sensitive and may perish due to continuous exposure to light, reducing their lifetime. Moths, on the other hand, are extremely delicate. They have no defense.

They are preyed upon by various predators, including birds, lizards, and frogs. As a result, moths die before completing their normal life cycle because they lack the necessary circumstances to develop and reproduce.

How long can a moth survive without food?

Though the nuisance moths in your house may appear rather harmless, they may be a major cause of annoyance.

The majority of brown adult moths feed on and live on liquids. Adult male and female moths can be seen feeding on tree sap, flower nectar, and rotten fruits. This food provides them with the energy they need to fly while also keeping them hydrated.

Clothing moths, on the other hand, feast on natural fibers such as cotton, silk, wool, or anything else these pests can locate in your home.

If it comes down to it, they will also feed on synthetic fibers if they are to live and survive. Pantry moths are the name given to moths that feed on clothing. These moths have a lifetime of 1-2 weeks without eating before succumbing to death.

Adults’ life cycles are not that long without eating. When female adults are hungry, they lay eggs, which completes their life cycle; the larvae might stay quiescent for months before growing to any other stage.

Clothes moths are simpler to detect than pantry moths. Clothes moths, on the other hand, do not travel far from their feeding sources. Brown moths can deposit eggs on food sources, allowing the larvae to begin developing as soon as they hatch.

Moths begin depositing eggs strategically in late fall or winter. These eggs remain unhatched throughout the winter and begin to hatch with the approach of spring or the summer months of June or July. These moth larvae thrive and grow in humid environments.


When it comes to moths, most people think of them as harmful insects. And, to some part, that is accurate since they are accountable for all the harm they create to clothing and many key services. Their larvae are pests that harm a wide range of crops. Moths are also important to humans.

In several ways, Moths of the Erebidae family are great pollinators of plants. They aid in nectar and seed production by aiding in pollination. The presence of moths indicates that the ecosystem is healthy.

The number of days a moth lives varies by species. However, because of the enormous number of moth species present in the environment, estimating the exact life span of moths is quite challenging.


Editorial Staff

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