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Greater Wax Moth (Galleria mellonella)

The greater wax moth is a member of the family of snout moths. It can be found inhabiting honeycombs, which act as a food source for the larvae, resulting in its other name honeycomb moth. Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus first described this species in the 10th edition of his book Systema Naturae in 1758.

Greater Wax Moth


Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pyralidae
  • Genus: Galleria
  • Scientific Name: Galleria mellonella

Description and Identification


They are white or dirty gray, 3-30 mm long, and feed on material generally found in their surroundings. These include honey, pollen, and discarded skins of honeybee larvae. The caterpillars go through 8-10 instars over a period ranging from 28 days to 6 months. In their early instars, they are more voracious eaters, even resorting to cannibalism during food shortages.

Greater Wax Moth Caterpillar


Greater Wax Moth Larva



Pupae start as brownish-white, finally turning dark brown when adults are about to emerge. They are 14-16 mm, remaining immobile in their cocoons for 1-9 weeks.

Greater Wax Moth Pupa


Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present.

Males can be distinguished from a semilunar notch on their bodies, living a little longer than their female counterparts.

Color and Appearance

They are brown-gray and 10-18 mm long. When the wings are opened, a smooth outer margin is observed. When the wings are closed, the margin remains.

Average wingspan: 30 to 41 mm

Flight pattern: Erratic

Season: May to October 

Galleria mellonella



The colors of the eggs range from cream to pink to white. They are smooth, spherical, and are 0.4-0.5 mm in diameter.

Greater Wax Moth Eggs


Quick Facts

Other NamesBee Moth, Honeycomb Moth
DistributionWorldwide distribution including twenty-seven African countries, nine Asian countries, five North American countries, three Latin American countries, Australia, ten European countries, and five island countries.
HabitatAnywhere honeybees are bred and cultivated
PredatorsParasitic wasps
Lifespan of AdultsFemales: 12 days
Males: 21 days
Host PlantsHoneycombs
Adult DietDoes not feed

Did You Know

  • It is suggested by recent research that the greater wax moth is capable of digesting polystyrene, a tough plastic hard to break down. Ongoing research is being conducted to see if the larvae can rid the world of excess plastic.
  • This moth has the highest recorded frequency in the world, capable of hearing up to 300 kHz
Greater Wax Moth Picture


Honeycomb Moth


Greater Wax Moth Damage


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