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Do Moths Sleep? (Answered)

Do Moths Sleep? (Answered)

Moths are fascinating insects with special characteristics. At home, you might see them flying at night close to light sources and some flying in broad daylight. Some people wonder if all moths are really nocturnal. Well, that is one characteristic that makes them fascinating.

Every living organism must sleep. However, the difference is how long and what time they sleep. Some animals will sleep longer than others, while others sleep during the day or night.

If all these questions confuse you, this article covers everything concerning moth sleep patterns. Where they sleep, how long they sleep, if they dream, and what position they sleep in. Continue reading to find out more about them.

Do Moths Sleep?

Yes. Moths sleep. However, their sleeping pattern is not the same as with other animals. In fact, you cannot tell whether a moth is sleeping or not. This is because it does not have eyelids like other animals, and also finding a moth during the day can be hard.

According to scientific research, most insects enter a stage known as Torpor, a state where an insect slows down its body function, including the brain, and also minimizes body movement & metabolism. Moths are experts in this process, and you can find them sitting still during the day or at night. You can spot a moth sleeping in a corner inside a closet or inside your basement.

Spotting a Luna moth, gipsy moth, or other nocturnal species sleeping can be hard. This is because most of them are rare, nocturnal, and usually camouflage with deciduous trees during the day.

Can Moths Dream?

For a fact, it is yet to be fully discovered whether moths can dream or not. For some reason, scientists and animal experts have not yet officially discovered this phenomenon. However, moths sleep during the day or at night, depending on the species.

Sleeping and dreaming is a fundamental part of development, not only for mammals but insects. Unfortunately, research finds dreaming in humans perplexing, meaning that it is a mystery in insects. This is because dreams are linked to the central nervous system. Moths have a simple nervous system according to research. So, researchers believe that dreaming is impossible for moths. 

If you find a moth lying still on the wall, it could be resting or probably sleeping. They normally sleep to recharge energy for later use. You’ve probably been wondering whether these harmless creatures dream as humans do. Unfortunately, the truth is that discovery is yet to prove it.

How do Moths Sleep?

Moths sleep in a resting-like position with their wings spread wide. They will sit still on any surface they can firmly grip. Also, the spot needs to be safe with minimal light. When a moth is sleeping, it becomes slugging with minimal to no activity. It lies motionless for extended hours.

Remember that when moths are sleeping (during the day or at night), they are conserving the energy they will use at night to find mates. Remember that the primary function of an adult moth is to reproduce before it dies. So, both male and female moths need to utilize their remaining days to find mates, lay eggs, and ensure continuity of generation.

Also, a few factors like the weather and temperature determine how long a moth sleeps. In winter, for instance, most moths tend to sleep longer than in summer or during warm temperatures.

Normally, moths will hide in a secure spot before going to sleep. If you are keen or observant, you can spot a moth between the cracks & crevices on a wall, underneath or inside closets, basements, and other dark spots. Basically, they always find a spot with minimal light, and usually prefer someplace safe from predators.

When and Where Do Moths Sleep?

Due to evolutionary adaptation, many moths sleep during the daytime and become active at night. But what is common among all species is where they sleep, no matter the time.

Unlike ants and bees that build safe nests, all moths sleep at the perfect hiding spot, without building a nest. With wings, they fly to safe spots like cracks & crevices, on the bark of trees, and in other hard-to-reach spots.

You might assume that all moths sleep during the day and are out and about at night. However, this is not always the case with all species. When a moth activates its resting position, during the day or at night (for a nocturnal moth) it usually sits still for several hours. Some will even extend longer, up to about 24 hours.

Studies show that most moth species found in the cold regions are diurnals, meaning they sleep at night and are active during the day. Surprisingly, these particular species have adapted to sleep at night because the temperatures tend to be extreme for any movement. However, they will switch back to normal nocturnal behaviour when the weather pattern changes.

When a moth is sleeping, it will not shut down its entire reflexes. A moth will automatically respond to loud noises, vibrations, or if you try touching its wings by fleeing the spot.

Do Moths Sleep During the Day?

While most moths are nocturnal, you will find some that are diurnals. According to the information above, most species are nocturnal. They sleep and hide during the day away from predators and become active at night. Species like the silk moth and tiger moth are diurnals and sleep at night.

The clearwing moth or the Oak Egger, for example, are day-flying moths which can be visible during the day but sleep at night. Some people might even mistake day-flying moths for butterflies, with larger ones resembling hummingbirds or bats.

Other diurnals include the wasp moth, lichen moth, and owlet moth. These species will go into a motionless state at night to rest. Usually, most activities that go on at night do little to disturb them.

Do Moths Sleep on Walls?

Yes. Moths sleep on walls. Somehow, walls provide enough grip for them to balance comfortably using millions of tiny hairs on their legs. Not only do they sleep on walls but find a safe place on a wall with minimal or no light to sleep.

You can try to check if you can find a moth if there are walls with cracks or a few close to the corner around your home. Alternatively, they might prefer the basement because of the cool temperatures and minimal light.

How long they sleep on the wall will, however, depend on the particular species. Although, most sleep equivalent to an entire daylight hour and come out at dusk to flutter around.

Another thing to note is that moths will instinctively find a spot that camouflages with their bodies. If you are not keen, you cannot spot them. This is also a survival adaptation to hide from predators while they are sleeping.

Do Moths Sleep Upside Down?

No. Moths do not sleep upside down. However, you can spot a moth sitting still and upright on a wall or tree if you are lucky. Also, some moths will hang upside down under leaf foliage to hide from predators. On rare occasions, you might find a moth sitting still with its head facing downwards.

If you are keen, you might have already noticed that moths have millions of tiny hair particles on their feet. This feature gives them the ability to grip and balance on different surfaces. So, you can spot a moth sitting still on a wall, tree, or even hanging upside down on the ceiling.

Surprisingly, many moths that have recently emerged from the cocoon will lay still for several hours or days under leaf foliage. Not only are they preparing to flutter their wings but keeping safe away from predators. At this stage, the wings are folded and begin to straighten after a day or two.

What Does a Sleeping Moth Look Like?

As much as it can be hard to tell if it is indeed sleeping because of its open eyelids, moths lay still and sleep without showing any movement. Their wings, however, remain wide open, unlike butterflies that sleep with their wings closed.

You can try to gently poke a moth without inflicting pain on its body to see if it is indeed asleep. A sleeping moth will, at first, not react. However, if the moth reacts even before you touch it, then it probably was not asleep. The reflexes of a sleeping moth are not as reactive as that of a resting moth.

During cold weather, most moths will reduce activity (a state known as torpor) to preserve energy. During this time, you can easily spot the moths sleeping on barks or in your basement.

Can Moths Be Sleep Deprived?

Sleep deprivation is not an unusual thing in insects. However, because moths do not have eyelids, it can be hard to tell if they are sleep deprived. Similar to humans, sleep deprivation can be harmful to an insect. It causes physical development challenges and lack of energy.

Surprisingly, the anatomy of all living organisms is almost the same. When the body is tired, the brain sends chemical signals to the body and alerts it to rest and rejuvenate lost energy. When sleep is deprived, the body will decrease its performance.

At home, you cannot quickly tell whether a moth is sleeping or not. This is because they lay still with their eyes open, and you cannot spot any movement. But trying to touch the moth can reveal whether it was indeed a sleep or resting.

If a moth or any insect is sleep deprived for long, it might die prematurely.


Sleep is necessary in all living organisms. Not only might you spot a moth resting on a wall but some might be sleeping upside down. It is worth understanding moth sleeping habits to know how to take care of them at home.

Luckily, this article has looked at everything about moth sleep patterns.