How Long Do Moths Live?

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Although harmless, like ants or gnats, moths can be a nuisance at a backyard cookout or campfire. Also, 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. While there are many ways to get rid of moths, it can be harder to remove them fully if you have many of them flying around. 

Knowing how long moths live can help you figure out if any deterrents you’re using are working. Staying consistent with your extermination methods is one of the best ways to make sure it works. If you know how long you can expect a group of moths to live, you can know if you’re doing the right things when it comes to removing them. 

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • The Moth Life Cycle 
  • How Long Moths Live
Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

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    Moth Life Cycle 

    The first stage of the moth life cycle is the embryonic stage. This is when moth eggs are laid, and the embryo starts to develop. Much in the same way a fish or bird egg will develop, moth eggs start forming as soon as a male moth and female moth mate. Then, the female moth will find a suitable place to lay eggs, usually in an area with a lot of vegetation. 

    After the eggs hatch, the moth larvae will then start to look for food. Moth larvae, also known as caterpillars, will begin by eating the shell of their eggs and any plant material they can find. As they develop, they shed their skin just like a snake, using the discarded skin as food. Once they’ve consumed enough food, they’ll then start to form a cocoon, much in the same way that butterflies do. This is called the pupal stage. 

    The cocoon is made out of a silk web material that the moth caterpillar spins. While they’re inside the cocoon, moth caterpillars use up all the calories they ate in the larval stage. This contributes to the metamorphosis into their final form as a moth. This is done by breaking down the larva and reforming it into an adult moth. They do this by disintegrating into a collection of specially adapted cells in a process called histogenesis. 

    Once this stage is finished, the adult moth breaks out of the webbing of the cocoon and can usually fly after a few hours. Before they can do that, though, they need to excrete all of the waste material produced in the pupal stage. They also have to wait for their wings to completely dry before they’re ready to take to the skies. 

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    How Long Do Moths Live? 

    Different species of moths will have different lifespans depending on factors like the climate they live in and the number of mates they can find. Typically, most types of moths will have two generations per year. This means that while one moth generation is fully grown and mating, the next is in the pupal stage and growing into adult moths. 

    The weather will greatly affect the lifespan of a moth. Moths born from eggs laid in the fall will take longer to develop into the adult stage, and this will typically be about 10 to 11 months. However, if eggs are laid in the spring, the weather is warmer, and the moths will develop much faster. Those moths will have a lifespan of four to five months. 

    Some species of moths won’t have two generations per year. In these cases, the average lifespan of the moth will be, in total, about 12 months. Some butterflies and moths in extremely cold temperatures like the arctic will have lifespans of two years. The total time will depend on how long the moth takes to move through the entire life cycle. If the conditions are more difficult, the moths take longer to develop and have a much longer lifespan. The same goes for extremely hot conditions. Some desert moths will even hibernate as pupa for up to seven years, waiting for the rain to fall. 

    The moth cocoon is made out of a silk web material that the moth caterpillar spins. While they’re inside the cocoon, moth caterpillars use up all the calories they ate in the larval stage.

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    Prepare Your Yard For Moths No Matter the Season

    Since moths are a year-round pest, it’s best to be as prepared for them as possible. Taking steps to ensure that your yard is protected can help you keep them away from your light bulbs and campfires. Knowing that moths can take longer to grow into adulthood during the winter can help you keep your yard trimmed to make sure they don’t spin their cocoons and hatch there when the weather gets more hospitable.

    If you’re dealing with a moth infestation, it’s best to contact a pest control professional. While there are ways that you can deal with moths on your own, a technician will be able to use the right pest control products and help you control them and make sure they don’t come back. 



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