Temperature is arguably the most important abiotic factor influencing the life history of ectotherms. It limits survival and affects all physiological and metabolic processes, including energy and nutrient procurement and processing, development and growth rates, locomotion ability and ultimately reproductive success. However, the influence of temperature on the energetic cost of development has not been thoroughly investigated. We show that in the diamondback moth [Plutella xylostella L. (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae)] rearing temperature (range10–30°C) affected growth and development rates, the energetic cost of development and fecundity. Rearing at lower temperatures increased development times and slowed growth rate, but resulted in larger adult mass. Fecundity was lowest at 10°C, highest at 15°C and intermediate at temperatures of 20°C and above. At a given rearing temperature fecundity was correlated with pupal mass and most eggs were laid on the first day of oviposition, there was no correlation between total eggs laid and adult longevity. The highest production cost was incurred at 10°C; this decreased with increasing temperature, was minimized in the range 20–25°C, and then increased again at 30°C. These minimized production costs occurred at temperatures close to the intrinsic optimum temperature for this species and may reflect the rearing temperature for optimal fitness. Thus at sub-optimal temperatures greater food resources are required during the development period. Predicted increased temperatures at the margins of the current core distribution of P. xylostella could ameliorate current seasonal effects on fecundity, thereby increasing the probability of winter survival leading to more resilient range expansion and an increased probability of pest outbreaks.