ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Vapourer Moths that cannot fly and do not eat

Updated on October 29, 2015

Many moths have no mouthparts and females with no wings

Although it is commonly thought that moths are flying insects and that they feed on nectar like butterflies, there are many species in which the adults cannot eat at all because they have no mouthparts, and others in which the females have no wings and it is only the males that can fly.

These moths do all their feeding in the caterpillar stage and the food they ate then has to sustain them through their pupal and adult states. Although this may seem very strange to our ways of thinking, it seems to work very well for many species of moth.

The Vapourer Moth is an unusual common moth

A species such as the Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua ) has females that cannot eat and cannot fly and are basically a bag of eggs. They wait on the cocoon, in which their pupa was, for a male to find them and after mating they lay their eggs on the cocoon and die. The males have brown wings and fly about looking for females.

This species is also unusual because it flies by day. The caterpillars are pretty creatures with coloured tufts of fur and hairy bodies and feed on a variety of trees, bushes and other plants.

It is in the caterpillar stage that the insect must build up enough energy reserves from its food to last it in its adult phase. The closely-related Scarce Vapourer (Orgyia gonostigma ) also has females that are unable to fly.

Moth photos

Vapourer Moth female. Photo by Grmanners
Vapourer Moth female. Photo by Grmanners
Female Silk Moth (Bombyx mori)
Female Silk Moth (Bombyx mori)
Vapourer Moth caterpillar. Photo by Georg Slickers
Vapourer Moth caterpillar. Photo by Georg Slickers
Vapourer Moth male. Photo by Beentree
Vapourer Moth male. Photo by Beentree

Gypsy Moth and other moths that do not eat

The Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar ) has cream-coloured females that have wings but are unable to fly, and brownish winged males that can. In this species, which has often been a pest of fruit trees, the adults are unable to feed.

Winter Moth

In the Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata ) the females have stumps of wings but they are totally useless for flying purposes. In this species the females do crawl about but are otherwise similar to the form of the Vapourer Moth and they wait about for the flying males to find them and mate with them. After mating they lay their eggs on fruit trees and die.

Atlas Moth

Most species in the large Saturniidae silkmoth family are very colourful and some such as the Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas ) are some of the biggest types of moth in the world. Although most silkmoths can fly all species are unable to eat as adults but must feed up as caterpillars. The adults do not even have digestive systems.

Silk Moths

The very well-known Silk Moth (Bombyx mori ), which has caterpillars known as silk worms that feed on Mulberry leaves and that are farmed for their silk, has wings but is unable to fly, and the adults only have rudimentary mouthparts and are unable to eat.

The Silk Moth has become dependent on humans even though most of its individuals have a short life and are killed before they even reach adulthood. The Silk Moth has lost all fear of predators and also is unable to fly and would swiftly die out in the wild.

These moth species that are unable to eat or fly and have short lives that appear to only serve the purpose of reproducing their species. Moths that cannot eat usually live less than a week. There are other insect types that are like this with perhaps the Mayfly being the best-known because after a long life as a larva that lives underwater in rivers and streams, when it finally changes into the adult stage it cannot eat and only lives for a day.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for your comments!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Most interesting to know, thanks for the well in detail Hub

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      They have them to fly just like most other moths of course!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      why dose silkmoths have wings

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      9 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Why "gross"? Thanks for posting!

    • suziecat7 profile image


      9 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Interesting but kind of gross.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 

      9 years ago from South East Asia

      Fascinating. Thank you.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      9 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      The males do not eat too. Both males and females eat enough in the larval stage to take them through their pupal and adult stages. The caterpillar reaches a day on which it takes its last meal. All the large moths in the silk moth family are like this. The biggest moths in the world are unable to eat.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Bard of Ely, that's an interesting concept: not having a mouth and never eating. So where does the energy for the next generation come from? If the females do not eat, do the males do enough eating for everybody? How exactly does that work?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)