The quality of food eaten by larval insects will affect traits such as gamete production, fat reserves, muscle bulk and body size in the adult. Moreover, larvae also depend on high moisture content in the diet for survival. The almond moth (Ephestia cautella) (W.) (Lepidoptera; Pyralidae) does not feed as an adult although it continues to drink water. We tested the idea that an almond moth could compensate for a low-water diet as a larva by increasing its water intake as an adult. We reared larvae on two different food sources with different moisture regimes; standard laboratory diet with glycerol (relatively wet) and standard diet without glycerol (relatively dry). Half the adult moths from each treatment were given water to drink before their first and only mating. Our results show that wet larval diets (i.e. containing glycerol) significantly decreased fecundity (total number of eggs laid and the proportion of hatched larvae), whilst it significantly increased male and female longevity. The interaction effect of water access for adult males and females was significant, independent of the glycerol in the larval diet. Longevity in females that were not presented with water as adults was slightly higher if mated with a male that had had access to water, suggesting a mating donation of water. However, females that received water as adults showed a decreased longevity if mated with a male who had also had access to water as an adult, indicating a negative effect of water if received by both males and females. In addition, when the larval diet included glycerol, increased number of eggs laid decreased female longevity, whilst an absence of glycerol in the larval diet resulted in low female longevity that was unlinked with fecundity. Glycerol is used in many artificial insect diets and the fact that it shows a strong effect on key life-history traits (reproductive output and longevity in this species), merits careful re-examination of its effects on these important traits in other laboratory models. We also discuss the possibility that larval diet can affect female reproductive decisions.