Silkworms Spin Luxury Threads

by Nancy Garduno age 11

Silk, one of the strongest and most sought after fabrics in the world is actually produced by a tiny caterpillar called the silkworm.

Silkworms produce thread that when woven together creates silk. Silkworms eat leaves from only one plant, the mulberry tree. Today, these insects no longer live in the wild. Instead, they are used for silk farming. The silkworm forms a cocoon by wrapping a single strand of silk around itself. Silk farmers then boil this cocoon in water to separate the strand of silk and make it ready for weaving. Unfortunately, this boiling also kills the silkworm.

For silk production, not many pupae become adult Bombyx Mori moths. Farmers leave only a few of these to moths for breeding. The majority of the cocoons are plunged into boiling water to separate the strand of silk. The pupa dies and the gum on the silk is dissolved. The fine silk of many cocoons is woven together to be made into thread.

When autumn comes, silkworms find a suitable position on a mulberry tree. Once it finds a place, it settles itself and begins oozing out silk from its, spinneret. In the beginning, the silkworm forms a flimsy curtain, like a spider web, with a few threads strung onto the leaves. The silkworm is still visible at this stage.

A few hours later, the silkworm stops running its silk in between mulberry leaves and starts to wrap itself in the silk. The silkworm uses a single strand of silk that is about half a mile long to entirely encase itself in a cocoon. Inside the cocoon the silkworm becomes a pupa. This is the stage of development a moth or a butterfly undergoes when they don’t feed or move. From this stage, The pupa emerges as an adult insect.

In China, the silkworm has been cultivated for its fine silk for about 5,000 years. According to the legend, in 2,700 B.C. the princess of China, Si-Ling-Chi, first noticed how to use silkworm cocoons to make fine thread. Si-Ling-Chi was there after known as Seinthan,”the silk goddess.” Today, silk is used to make fine garments all over the world.

[Source:Big Bug Book]