Do Moths Die in Winter?

Sara Sabharwal
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When the weather turns for the worse, and the snow begins to fall, we often wonder what animals and insects do to stay warm. Mammals can grow longer coats for warmth or even hibernate, but what about moths? Do moths die in the winter?

Moths rely on external heat sources to survive. They can generate small amounts of heat by moving their wings rapidly, but most heat comes from the sun or lights. Winters are too cold for moths. They must either take shelter, or they will die off.

Do Moths Come Back Every Year?

If moths cannot survive the cold winter months, it may be hard to imagine how they repopulate so quickly and continue to be seen season after season. Moths do come back every year, but they also never really leave. 

During the cold months, before moths enter a dormant stage, they find a safe place to shelter or lay their eggs. Then, once the cold weather kicks in, moths in either the adult, larval, or egg stage will essentially go dormant.

This means they do not continue to grow. 

Like seeds, they use stored energy to keep themselves alive during this time. When the sun emerges, and the world thaws into spring, the moths will become active again and resume growing. 

Winter Becoming Spring

Most moth species will go dormant in the larval stage. However, some moth species will enter the dormant phase as adults.

If you find a few moths in your home before it is safe outside for them, and they are not the species that thrive in the winter, you can place them in a cardboard box in a cool space to help calm them down. 

Once they have calmed down, put them in a safe and sheltered space that is not artificially heated. An outdoor shed or a room with no heat are good options. They will go back into their dormant phase. Just be sure that they can get out once spring arrives. 

Do Moths Hibernate in Winter? 

When we think of hibernation, we tend to think of bears sleeping away in the cold weather in caves after feasting in the fall. In the sense of “sleeping through the winter”, yes, what moths do could be thought of as hibernation.

However, the actual process that moths use to survive winter is called a dormant phase. They do not hibernate.

During dormant phases, the moths will remain in egg, larval, or adult stages and become dormant or unmoving until the spring thaw.

You can think of the moths almost frozen in time. 

The stage they will become dormant in will depend on the moth species. However, most moths will enter the dormant phase during a larval stage. 

On another note, a few species of moths thrive in the cold of winter and will emerge in the snowy tundra.

Winter, December and Spring Usher moths are a few of the moth varieties that you can experience fluttering around when all other insects seem to be hiding from the cold. 

December Moth

Do Moths Hatch in Winter?

Since moths will go into a dormant phase during the cold of winter, they will advance to the next life stage until spring. This means that no eggs will hatch, no larvae will become adults, and no adults will lay eggs. 

However, this does not apply to the types of moths that are active in the winter.

Are There Moths Which Hatch in Winter?

Winter, December and Spring Usher moths will live their lives normally in the cold season.

Hatching from eggs, larvae maturing into adulthood, and adults laying new eggs will continue to happen since these species thrive in a time when most other animals and insects are dormant or hiding. 

Do Moth Eggs Survive in Winter?

Luckily, for the species of moths that over-winterize, their eggs will survive. Moth species vary, and each type of species will overwinter differently. Some will go dormant in the egg phase.

Moths dormant in the egg phase will thaw and hatch once the winter has passed. However, if the eggs are from a species of moth that does not enter the dormant stage, the cold will most likely kill the eggs. 

Since different moth species will overwinter in different phases, there is always a stage of life that keeps the moth species alive for another generation.

Once spring comes, the process will continue and the moths will move forward with their life cycles to produce more and more moth offspring. 


You may have wondered how moths return every year if they are never seen in the winter months. While some would guess they hibernate like bears, they would be on the right track. 

Moths “sleep through the winter” by going into a dormant phase. During this process, all growth is stopped. Moths will remain in this phase until spring comes and the warm weather wakes them. 

1 thought on “Do Moths Die in Winter?”

  1. There is a moth on my kitchen wall. He/or she has been there for
    several days. Its cold outside today but supposed to be 50’s tomorrow.
    I don’t want to hurt the moth so I have let it on the wall. What should
    I do?
    Many thanks!


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