Palpita forficifera Munroe, 1959 (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) is the main pest of the olive tree (Olea europaea L. Oleaceae) in Brazil. This study investigated the biology of P. forficifera reared on different hosts and elaborated the corresponding fertility life table for a better understanding of its development. Biology of P. forficifera was studied using olive cultivars Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki and the alternative host privet (Ligustrum lucidum Ait., Oleaceae), under controlled conditions of temperature (25 ± 2°C), relative humidity (60 ± 10%), and photophase (14 h). We evaluated duration and viability of egg, larva, and pupa stages; number and duration of instars; sex ratio; pupa weight; duration of preoviposition, oviposition, and postoviposition periods; fecundity and longevity. The fertility life table was elaborated from these parameters. Larvae fed with privet had longer larval stage, and consequently, egg-pupa period. Larva viability was lower in cv. Arbosana, which reflected in lower viability in the egg–pupa period. Larvae fed with cv. Koroneiki originated females with higher fecundity. From the joint assessment of the biological parameters and the fertility life tables, cv. Koroneiki provided the greatest population increase, while cv. Arbosana impaired P. forficifera development. Thus, in areas of high occurrence of this species, cv. Arbosana should be considered as the more indicated cultivar for the establishment of new olive groves.