Moths may be harmless but can be a nuisance at a backyard cookout or campfire. Their attraction to light makes them a problem if you plan on having a porch lamp or candles illuminating your party or gathering, and an infestation can be a serious annoyance. 

Staying consistent with your moth extermination methods is one of the best ways to ensure it works.

If you know how long you can expect a group of moths to live, you can determine whether you’re taking the correct steps to eliminate them.

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The Moth Life Cycle

The first stage of the moth life cycle is the embryonic stage. In this stage, moth eggs are laid, and the embryo starts to develop. Much like a fish or bird egg, moth eggs start forming once a male and female moth mate. The female then finds a suitable spot to lay the eggs, usually somewhere with lots of vegetation.

moth caterpillar crawling on a wall

After hatching, the moth larvae start to look for food. Known as caterpillars, they begin by eating their eggshells and any plant material they can find. As they grow, they shed their skin like snakes do, consuming the shed skin. 

Once they’ve eaten enough, they form a cocoon, like butterflies. This pupal stage transforms them into adult moths, breaking down and reforming their bodies through histogenesis.

The caterpillar spins a silk cocoon to live in during this change. Inside, it uses up the calories from its larval eating. When the metamorphosis finishes, the moth emerges, able to fly in hours after drying its wings and expelling waste.

How Long Do Moths Live?

Moth species have varying lifespans depending on climate and mates. Most have two generations annually, one grown and mating while the next develops.

Fall eggs become moths in 10 to 11 months, but warmer spring weather speeds development into four to five-month life spans. Some moths have one generation yearly, living around 12 months in total. 

Frigid areas like the Arctic extend lives to two years. In deserts, moths can hibernate in cocoons for seven years, awaiting rain. Harsh conditions usually mean slower development and longer lives.

Moth Behavior and Habits

Here are common moth behaviors to consider when planning moth prevention: 

  • Fertile females lay up to 1000 eggs, surging populations.
  • They crawl into cracks and crevices, so caulk and seal openings.
  • Moths eat natural fibers, so store fabrics sealed away.
  • These pests flock to lights, so use yellow bulbs or keep lights off.
  • Most moths are nocturnal, decreasing activity in daylight.

Moth Prevention Tips

Here are ways to deter moths and avoid infestations:

Apply diatomaceous earth in sheltered spots to dehydrate them.

Capture male moths in pheromone traps to stop reproduction.

Frequently wash natural fiber items, then store them in airtight containers to kill eggs.

Install screened doors to limit moths flying in when lights are on.

Spray moth-killing insecticides in heavily infested areas and around entry points. Consider professional pest control methods for severe infestations.

Throw away anything moths have already damaged

Vacuum often to remove eggs and larvae, immediately discarding the bag outside.

So, Is Understanding Moth Lifespans Useful?

Knowing approximately how long pests live can definitely help control them. Since you’ll know their full life cycle length, you can gauge whether your prevention methods work.

For example, suppose the average life span is five months from egg to adult. In that case, consistent pest control during that time frame should greatly reduce their numbers. If moths remain prevalent, you may need to try new or more aggressive methods.

Knowledge of their stages also helps you target them effectively — vigorous washing of fabrics when they lay eggs, trimming plants while they form cocoons, etc.

Understanding the moth’s life span allows for properly timed control methods. It also helps assess if your current pest regimen is working or needs adjusting to fully eliminate an infestation.

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Averaging $125 to $300 for an initial visit, this service includes inspections and treatments, costing between $50 to $75
Annual service
A recurring service that provides regular inspections and treatments once a year, costing between $125 to $500.

FAQs About Moth Lifespans

How long do moths live without food?

Most adults survive just one to two weeks without food before starving. However, some larvae can live months without food by entering diapause, a hibernation-like state.

What is the shortest moth life span?

The adult stage of small species like pygmy moths may only last two to three days with a total life span of a few weeks. Larger species can live several months as adults.

Do male and female moths live equally long?

Yes, generally, moth gender doesn’t impact total life span. In some species, males have a slightly shorter adult stage than females and die after mating.

Do moths die after laying eggs?

Most females live for a period after reproducing. However, some short-lived species die within days of laying eggs.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Abbie Clark

Abbie Clark


Abbie Clark is a writer and blogger. She is the founder of "Hey She Thrives", where she writes about all things motherhood, coupled with expert cleaning tips that echo the warmth and order of a loving home. She is also the co founder of "RideRambler." There, you can find all of the info you'll ever need on DIY car fixes and Auto news.When not writing, you can find Abbie chasing her toddler, trying a new cookie recipe, or fishing with her husband.

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Amy DeYoung


Amy DeYoung has a passion for educating and motivating homeowners to improve their lives through home improvement projects and preventative measures. She is a content writer and editor specializing in pest control, moving, window, and lawn/gardening content for Today’s Homeowner. Amy utilizes her own experience within the pest control and real estate industry to educate readers. She studied business, communications, and writing at Arizona State University.

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