How Are Moths Related To Maggots? Complete Guide

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Maggots and moths are types of insects that generally tend to disgust humans. But how are moths related to maggots? The way I see it, these are two highly misunderstood pests that we lack basic knowledge about.

Well, do not worry as you are in the right place because I will take you through the various essential pieces of information about these two insects, which make them rather interesting and, in fact, helpful instead of disgusting. So buckle up and let us dive right in.

What are moths?

Moths are frequently overshadowed by their more flamboyant cousins, the butterflies. Moths are one of the world’s most diversified and successful organisms. Scientists believe that there are over 150,000 kinds of moths on the planet!

Brown atlas moth

They are a part of the Order Lepidoptera. Moths, unlike butterflies, come in a rainbow of hues and configurations. This species can be as small as a pinhead or as enormous as an adult’s palm and have various shapes.

Moths come in a wide range of sizes, with a wingspan ranging from around 5 mm (0.15 inch) to about 30 cm (about 1 foot). They are highly adapted and can live in all ecosystems except arctic ones.

Moths have dust-like scales on their wings, body, and legs that fall off when the insect is handled. They have a sturdier body and a duller coloration than butterflies.

Moth antennae, much like butterfly antennae, are either feathery or stout. Moths fold their tent-like wings over their bodies, wrap them around their bodies, or hold them stretched at their sides as they rest, unlike butterflies who hold their wings upright.

Moths may become guests in your house even if you are vigilant enough to keep the doors and windows shut. They generally enter your house when you bring certain food items in your house, such as grains, cereal, chocolate, flour, spices, etc.

What are maggots?

Fly larvae are referred to as maggots in general. Maggots, like flies, come in a variety of species. They have a characteristic conical shape and are usually cream or light brown in color, with a black spot on the back end that serves as a breathing hole.

Maggots don’t have teeth; instead, they have mandibles, which assist them in holding food that their bodies’ ridges have broken down.


Flies place their eggs on food products so that their larvae can begin eating as soon as they hatch. Maggots eat and prepare pupae, post which they create a hard shell and become a fly over the course of several days.

Maggots are commonly found in huge groups in storage areas because flies may deposit a large number of eggs at once, yet they have cannibalistic inclinations.

According to a study from the University of Lausanne, even though fruit flies are vegetarians, they have been known to devour other maggots if one becomes disabled.

You might possibly think that moths and maggots have nothing in common.

how are moths related to maggots

Well, you are wrong because even though Moths and Maggots are not directly related to one other, they are still distantly related as they have quite a few characteristic similarities between them, which are worth knowing. So let us take a look at some of these similarities.


Maggots and moths are both larvae when they hatch from their eggs. Both frequently hatch in great numbers as a result of their moms’ depositing clutches of eggs, but not all of them, as some are laid in isolated sites.

These little offsprings are ravenous after hatching, so ravenous that they will immediately begin munching or travel to their host, which isn’t far away. Many adults do not feed; hence the larval stage is sometimes referred to as the feeding stage.

Life Cycle

Both of these newborns have identical life cycles and go through complete metamorphosis, which means they progress from baby to adult in the same amount of time. Instars are the larvae’ stages once they hatch and start feeding.

The number of instars varies by family, genus, and species, but each one causes the organism to grow. Maggots and moths both pupate after completing their final larval instar. They create pupal casings, sometimes known as chrysalises, in which they convert into their adult form.

Butterflies and moths go through four stages of metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

To put it in simpler words, much like caterpillars transform into butterflies as they grow, maggots and moths also go through the same procedure in their respective life cycles.

Good Kind of Pests

Although the term “valuable pest” may appear to be an oxymoron, it applies to a wide range of maggots and moths. A squirming bunch of feeding maggots on rotten meat, for example, may make your stomach turn, yet they’re one of the first creatures to start degrading detritus and dead animals.

Certain larval stage moth species, on the other hand, can quickly devastate your vegetable garden by consuming leaves, fruit, roots, and other plant parts. On the other hand, adult moths are crucial pollinators for many plant species.


Both maggots and caterpillars—a less technical term for the larval stage of moths, have a similar, almost worm-like body structure, giving them a similar appearance. The majority of maggots are whitish or cream in color, with a darker face or head.

However, unlike their caterpillar and grub relatives, maggots rarely have legs or leg-like appendages. On the other hand, Caterpillars are often brightly colored and have patterns to help them blend in when foraging.

What Does a Moth’s Metamorphosis Cycle Look Like?

The majority of moth species have a separate life cycle. The moth life cycle has four stages: eggs, larvae, pupa/cocoon, and adult. Each stage represents a significant milestone in the life of a moth. Knowing how a moth life is also useful when dealing with a moth infestation.

Moths in their egg stage

The egg is the first stage of a moth’s life cycle. Adult female moths lay eggs in big batches, roughly 40–50 eggs at a time, after selecting an acceptable nest. This number can sometimes reach 100 eggs.

Moths in egg stage

These aren’t laid all at once but rather over a few days. Moth eggs typically hatch in 4-10 days, though this is highly dependent on humidity and temperature levels.

Moths in their Larva Stage

Moth larvae are particularly harmful at this stage. The newly formed larvae swarm their food source and munch away, gaining sustenance that helps them grow, with an insatiable need.

Moth in larvae stage

Imagine discovering hundreds of larvae crawling all over your cashmere sweaters, wool blanket, and other expensive fabric such as silk, etc. it’s terrifying.

Moths in their Pupal Stage

Larvae pupate when the temperature is warm enough. Few people will discover this stage because the pupae are normally buried out of sight in the darker recesses of closets or under radiators. The pupal stage can take up to 50 days.

However, adult Moths of certain moth types such as clothes moth, pantry moth, and carpet moth normally emerge between 8 and 10 days.

Moths in their Adult Stage

While grownup moths are harmless, their presence in your home should raise some concerns. Adult moths, interestingly, are unable to eat or drink. Their sole purpose is to find mates and deposit eggs wherever there are sufficient food items to survive on.

Female moths, in fact, frequently initiate mating by producing pheromones that are intended to attract males. When male moths detect the aroma of pheromones, they travel quickly to the source. 

What Does a Maggot’s Metamorphosis Cycle Look Like?

Maggots in their First Instar

Fly maggots normally hatch in one day. Some flies, such as the common Australian blowfly, are ovoviviparous. The first instar flies in this scenario hatches from a membrane rather than an egg, which occurs virtually immediately after the mother lays them.

These newly hatched little white maggots are about 0.080 inches long and begin feeding by sucking on the fluids of the meal that their mother has left out for them. They continue to travel deeper into their meal as they feed.

Maggots in their Second Instar

Most maggots will molt from the first to the second instar once they reach roughly 0.3 inches long, which can happen within a day in ideal conditions.

The maggot mass feeding continues to transport Instar two around. Instar two will take another day to reach a length of roughly 0.5 inches before molting its skin and developing into instar three.

Maggots in their Third Instar

Maggots are larger now, and the transition from the third instar to the pre-pupa stage takes a little longer (typically two days). In the mass of maggots, the third instar feeds and moves around.

Before becoming a pupa and ultimately an adult, it has one more chance to bulk up and feed. Before entering the pupa stage, third instar maggots will grow to be between 0.7 and 0.8 inches long.

Pupa: Maggots Turn into Flies

The larval maggot transforms into a fly during the pupa stage. Flies are holometabolous, meaning they go through the entire metamorphosis process. Similar to how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, their larval and adult stages seem radically different.


Their larval body fully degenerates during metamorphosis, also known as the pupation stage. The pupa then releases an air bubble, which fills their puparium and allows their legs, head, and wings to develop inside, forming the foundation for their adult body. After roughly ten days, an adult fly emerges from its puparium at ideal temperatures.


From the above article, I have listed out the clear differences between moths and maggots. Hence now you will be able to identify if it’s a maggot or moth. Anyways if there is an infestation of either one you need to take precautions. For more articles on moths and maggots check out our website.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.