2.1. Wax moth eggs

Greater wax moth eggs are pearly white to light pink in colour and have a rough texture due to wavy lines running diagonally at regular intervals (Figs 1 and 2). The surface texture of greater wax moth eggs differs from that of lesser wax moth eggs (Fig. 1; Table 1) and can be used as a diagnostic between the two. Other comparisons between eggs of the two species are made in Table 1.  In most cases, greater wax moth females oviposit in clumps of 50-150 eggs (Williams, 1997). Throughout development, the egg changes from white to a yellowish colour. At approximately 4 days prior to hatching, the greater wax moth larva is visible as a dark ring within the egg. Twelve hours prior to hatching, the fully formed larva is visible through the egg chorion (Paddock, 1918). According to Williams (1997), greater wax moth eggs develop quickly at warm temperatures (29°C-35°C) and more slowly by about 30 days at cold temperatures (18°C). Eggs will not survive in extreme cold (at or below 0°C for 4.5 hours) or extreme heat (at or above 46°C for 70 minutes). SEM images comparing the eggs of the lesser and greater wax moths are available in Arbogast et al. (1980) and in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1. The eggs of the greater and lesser wax moths. Lesser wax moth egg lateral view (A, magnification = 110x) and close up of micropylar area (B, magnification = 560x). Greater wax moth egg lateral view (C, magnification = 110x) and close up of micropylar area (D, magnification = 560x). From Arbogast et al. 1980, original images provided by T. Arbogast.

Figure 1


Fig. 2. Greater wax moth eggs (cream-colored, globular structures, left arrow) and 1st instar larva (right arrow). Photograph: Lyle Buss, University of Florida.

Figure 2


Table 1. General characteristics of greater and lesser wax moth life stages.


Lesser Wax Moth Eggs

Greater Wax Moth Eggs


0.41 ± 0.02 × 0.31 ± 0.01 mm (l × w)1

0.44 ± 0.04 × 0.36 ± 0.02 mm (l × w)1


nearly spherical creamy-white in color2

spheroid to ellipsoid, ovoid or obovoid, pink-cream white in clusters of 50-150 eggs2

length in life stage

7 - 22 days, depending on environmental conditions; 7.1 ± 1.0 days3

3 - 30 days depending on environmental conditions2

diagnostic characters

“Reticulation limited to anterior end, carinae surrounding primary cells conspicuously broader around outer margins of cells”1 (Fig. 1)

“Reticulation at least faintly visible over entire surface, carinae surrounding primary cells of uniform width”1 (Fig. 1)

Lesser Wax Moth Larvae

Greater Wax Moth Larvae


1 - 20 mm long; fully grown = 18.8 ± 0.4 mm (length)3

first instar = 1-3 mm (length)

fully grown = 12-20 mm (length), 5-7 mm diameter2


narrow white bodies with brown heads and pronotal shields2

creamy-white with gray to dark gray markings, a small slightly pointed, reddish head2 (Figs. 6, 7 and 9)

length in life stage

6 - 7 weeks at 29° to 32° C; 30.10 ± 2.5 days3

6-7 weeks at 29° to 32° C2

diagnostic characters

“Stemmata absent (Fig. 4); spiracle with black peritreme thicker on caudal margin”4 (Fig. 5)

“Head with 4 stemmata on each side (Fig. 4); spiracle with yellowish peritreme of uniform thickness”4 (Fig. 5)

Lesser Wax Moth Pupae

Greater Wax Moth Pupae


11.3 ± 0.4mm in length & 2.80 ± 1.89 mm in width3

12-20 mm in length & 5-7 mm in width2


yellow-tan pupa in a white cocoon often covered in frass and other debris2

dark reddish brown pupa in an off-white, parchment-thick cocoon2 (Fig. 9)

length in life stage

37.3 ± 1.2 days3

6 - 55 days depending on environmental conditions2

Lesser Wax Moth Adults

Greater Wax Moth Adults


male = 10 mm long

female = 13 mm long

15 mm (length) with a 31 mm average wingspan


small, silver-bodied with a conspicuously yellow head, oval shaped forewings and heavily fringed hind wings2

heavy-bodied, reddish brown with mottled forewings and pale cream-colored lightly fringed hind wings2


female = 6.90 ± 1.135 days

male = 12.90 ± 1.30 days3

female = ~ 12 days

male = ~ 21 days2

diagnostic characters

“Forewing breadth less than 5 mm; termen of forewing convex (hindwing

“Forewing breadth 5 to 7 mm; termen of forewing concave; Cu of hindwing