How Long Do Moths Live? The lifespan of the UK’s most common Moths

You either love or hate them. Me personally? I don’t mind unless they get too close or bite holes in my best dress. 

Regardless, they are pretty interesting things and are one of those insects that can be found across the globe, in really wonderful and wild shapes, colours and sizes. But, this article is more about the moths that you’ll find in the UK. The kind you find fluttering from your wardrobe towards the end of summer. 

So, let us talk about the lifespan of a month, and how long moths live for. 


The lifespan of a moth. 

Moths, quite sadly, have relatively short lifespans but the exact time depends on too many factors to come to hard and fast conclusions. On average, most moths that are common in the UK only live between 4-5 month, but there are some that can live for as long as 9 months. The real determinator of how long moths live is down to the species, the environment, and avoiding being squished (they are very delicate insects). 


To help understand the life of a moth, we thought it would be a good idea to break down the life stages of a moth: 

Moths lay eggs for their young. Moth eggs usually hatch within a few days of being laid, but some species can take up to a few weeks to hatch. 

Once they hatch from the eggs, they take the form of a larvae, what we usually call a caterpillar. We all know the story and this is the stage of development from a bug to a moth. Again, the time this process takes entirely depends on the species and will range between a couple of weeks and up to several months.

Once the caterpillar reaches its final stage of development, it will enter the pupal stage. This is the famous bit where the caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis and transforms into a big (hopefully beautiful) adult moth. Again, this process may take a few days or depending on which moth variety we are talking about. 

Once the winged emerges from it’s transformation, the moth will only live for just a few days or weeks. So, it is one of the shortest periods in the moth’s life.

Because there are so many different kinds of moths in the UK, with different lifespans, we thought we’d outline the top 5 moths here, and tell you how long they live for


Common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella)

The common clothes moth is potentially the moth you’re most likely to encounter as they are the most common and widely distributed moth across the UK. These are the moths that are notorious for their habit of feeding on natural fibres (like wool) and causing damage to clothing or your curtains. They leave little holes everywhere.

The adult clothes moth has a wingspan of around 1 cm and is light brown in colour, and they live for up to 3 months. 

Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)

If you’re out in a woodland, or you have a nice big garden then you may encounter the Large Yellow Underwing moth. They are easy to identify thanks to their bright yellow colour and black stripes. They are also much bigger than most other moths across the UK and actually live relatively longer. For captive male moths, they have been found to live an average of 55 days, while females lived an average of 75 days. Source


Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae)

The beautiful Cinnabar Moth is really brightly coloured and you’re likely to find them in grasslands during the summer. It may be easy to confuse them with a butterfly down to their stunning colour scheme. They also are quite small with a wingspan of 3-4cms and have black and red markings. They can live between 8 and 9 months, which is very long for a tiny moth. 


Garden Tiger Moth (Arctia caja)

The garden tiger moth is my favourite of all the moths here. They are super interesting and you’ll find them generally in the south of the UK, where the weather is warmer. They have bright orange and black markings which gives them their name. Bless them though, they only have a very short life of  7-10 day which is very short indeed. 


Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)

Another moth you’ll find indoors towards of the summer is the Brown House Moth. They are really tiny small ones that can have a wingspan up to 1cm. So they are really small. They, like clothes moths, like to feed on your jumpers and curtains, so can be a bit annoying. They have a life cycle that lasts between 4-5 months. 



Final thoughts – How long do moths live? 

All in all, the most common moths in the UK can live anywhere from 7 days up to 9 months. The factors for their lifecycle all depend on the species of the moth, the environment they live in and (of course) whether or not they can avoid predators or humans. The wide variety of moths in the UK means that there are thousands of different moths, which live for different lengths of time. 

So, there you have it! Question answered! 

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