About Silkworms -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- General Information, Caring For & Breeding Silkworms
Background Silkworms are larva of a moth (Bombyx mori) native to Asia that spins a cocoon of fine, strong, lustrous fiber that is source of commercial silk. The culture of silkworms is called sericulture. The various species of silkworms raised today are distinguished by quality of silk they produce. Silkworms feed on leaves of mulberries (genus Morus) and sometimes on Osage orange (Maclura pomifera).
Bombyx Mori will not bite, making an ideal worm for feeding most reptiles, amphibians and other animals, and they offer great nutritional value. Mulberry Leaves Newborn are small enough for most baby reptiles to eat and young silkworms can even be fed so they will grow to a desired size. Silkworms are soft-bodied, slow moving and can grow to 3 inches in length. They are also relatively fast growing, reaching about 3 inches in length and ready to cocoon in as little as 25 - 28 days.
Silkworm and Cocoon Silkworms go through four stages of development, as do most insects: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Click here to see a life cycle chart. The adult (imago) stage is silkworm moth. The larva is silkworm caterpillar. The pupa is what silkworm changes into after spinning its cocoon before emerging as a moth. Since silkworm grows so much, it must shed its skin four times while it is growing. These stages-within-a-stage are called instars.
Today, silkworm moth lives only in captivity. Silkworms have been domesticated so that they can no longer survive independently in nature, particularly since they have lost ability to fly. All wild populations are extinct. Also contributing to their extinction is extraordinary fact that they only eat mulberry leaves.
Silkworms have been used by researchers to study pheromones or sexual attractant substances. The pheromones are released by female moths and males detect chemicals with olfactory hairs on their antennae. This allows male to find female for mating. The male antennae are made of many small hairs to increase chances of picking up small amounts of pheromones over long distances.
How to Grow Your Worms to Perfect Size
Silkworm Eggs and Moth The great thing about silkworms is that they only grow as much as you feed them, and they can go for a week or two without food. Say you have a couple hundred small silkworms, but you have a big bull frog or iguana. All you have to do is feed worms as much as they'll eat, keep them warm and dry, and in a few days, you'll have some good sized worms. Have too many silkworms? Not a problem, feed them once or twice a week and they'll stay alive until you need them without growing much larger. Wash hands thoroughly before handling worms or food or they may develop bacterial problems. Using a cheese grater, grate a small amount of food onto worms and repeat until worms reach desired size. For best results, maintain temperatures between 78° and 88° F.