The Silkworm is the larva of the domesticated Silk-Moth. It is an economically important insect, being a primary producer of Silk.
It is not possible to know the gender of a single Silkworm with any degree of certainty. The best way to distinguish between the genders is by looking at their size. Larger Silkworms are more likely to be females – sometimes up to 2cm larger – because they will need more energy when they are in their cocoons and producing their eggs.
It is much easier to see the gender of a Silkworm Moth. A Female Silk-Moth is always going to have a bigger abdomen as opposed to its male counterpart, because a female has to store up to 500 eggs – which it will lay shortly after mating.
Tiger, White Seductress, and Zebra Silkworms are all Bombyx Mori. There is no real difference between the breeds – other than their stripes of course – and the biggest difference can be seen between different “Shoebox Strains”. A “Shoebox Strain” is when people keep their Silkies to themselves, causing them to experience different conditions for many years.
If you live in an area where it is especially dry in summer, you can put a small container filled with water in your Silkworms’ living enclosure to increase the humidity level.
A Silkworm only eats Mulberry Leaves (preferably of the White Mulberry species), Osage orange leaves or artificial Silkworm food, commonly referred to as Silkworm Chow. Silkworms raised on Silkworm Chow will produce a noticeably considerably poorer standard of Silk.
Don’t forget to clean your Mulberry Leaves! Silkworm leaves need to be free of pesticide and soft enough for the Silkworms to eat. Sometimes – even if you know where your Mulberry Leaves come from – spraying from nearby houses can get on your mulberry tree. For this reason, it is best practice to always wash your leaves. You need to also be careful to not throw little Silkworms out when you change their leaves.
A diet of Mulberry Leaves will lead to the best outcomes for your Silkworms, but considering the many risks and difficulties that they carry, many people prefer to use Silkworm Chow.
At Everything Silkworms where possible, we recommend that breeders feed chow to their Silkworms when they are smaller, and weaker, before moving them on to Mulberry Leaves as they begin to eat a lot more.
Healthy Silkworms require approximately 12 hours of sunlight per day. Their shoebox should also have plenty of holes / open lid to allow for healthy airflow, without a direct draft of air.
Silkworms are domesticated! Silkworms cannot be found outside – even on their sole food source, Mulberry Trees – and especially cannot be released to live in the wild. After thousands of years of Silkworm production, Silkworms have lost their ability to survive outside. If the weather conditions do not kill the Silkworms that you release first, their natural inability to find food or predators like birds and other animals will.
While it may be sad, the Silk industry has contributed to the beginning of modern, intercontinental trade – on the Silk Road. This history can be explored in further detail on our website. Unfortunately, the production of Silk at an industrial scale is not feasible in the modern Australian landscape – so people are not exposed to the amazing Silkworm, like they were in the past.
All of this means that your only way to get your hands on Silkworms is by contacting a friend for some eggs, or by buying them off a local supplier such as ourselves.
Silkworms have a life-cycle that lasts approximately 8 weeks. This can be marginally slower, or faster according to the weather conditions. This is preceded by a cold period of storage of the eggs of at least 3 months – which we have already done for all orders that are sent out. Then, the eggs should hatch 2-3 weeks after your order is made, again, varying according to weather conditions. After this, your Silkworms will spend their days eating mulberry leaves for approximately 4 weeks, before they cocoon and develop into a moth for another 2 weeks. After this, they will spend no longer than 2 weeks mating and laying eggs – as moths – without eating at all!
Due to any uncertainties, and because of the importance of a class’ curriculum being followed, we generally recommend that your school purchases their Silkworms one week out from the commencement of term. That way – especially with postal delays caused by COVID, they are should arrive during your first week of classes, and then you will only need to wait another 1-2 weeks before they hatch. This gives the students the chance to observe them as eggs – but not for too long – all while making sure that you can finish their full life-cycle in the school term.
Remember to also read the dedicated pages on our site for teachers! Silkworms can be great areas of study for anyone from kindergarteners to tertiary studies.
The temperature of the room that your Silkworms are kept in is very important. This goes for both night, and day time! There are factors equally important to raising your Silkworms that go beyond solely feeding them. Just because you have bought Silkworm Chow – artificial Silkworm Food – or have access to Mulberry Leaves, it doesn’t mean that you can forget about all the other important factors. Many people send us emails wanting to know why their Silkworms have hatched – but die shortly thereafter. Often the reason is temperature. This is an especially common question in Winter and at the start of Spring. Just because you are asleep and warm doesn’t mean that your Silkworms are too! If you live in a cold house, it may be a smart idea to make sure that you move your Silkworms to a warmer room at night – such as a bedroom.
Choosing to use Silkworms as a Pet Feeder is one of the best decisions you can make for the health of your pets. Silkworms are in fact so nutritiously beneficial that According to a March 2011 story in the Emory Riddle Aeronautical University newspaper, Chinese researchers investigated the possibility of using Silkworm pupae as an astronaut food.
If you are raising Reptiles as a pet, consider feeding them Silkworms! Silkworms are low in fat, meaning that they can be a staple in any pet’s diet, as well as having more Calcium and Protein than any other of the 4 other common pet feeders. The high protein aspect means that by feeding Silkworms to an injured pet, it will help them recover quicker than if you were to be feeding it an alternative feeder, as the protein element helps heal and grow injured tissues. The high protein aspect also just generally helps make your reptiles stronger, than if they were to be fed another feeder. Because of their high calcium content, Silkworms are especially beneficial for gravid females, as they allow for the development, of many, healthy, fertile eggs.
There are two types of eggs: fertile (blue) and infertile (yellow). A hatched egg will then turn white, as the larva emerges. All fertile, blue eggs will hatch – although sometimes all of your eggs won’t hatch together. Sometimes, if kept in bad conditions for an extended period of time, a fertile egg may die.
It is important to follow the instruction sheets that will come with your order, and keep your Silkworms and eggs in the right living conditions. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a position where few eggs hatch, or even worse, those that do die.
Silkworm eggs shouldn’t just be kept in warm conditions during the day – but also night. A baby can’t go to sleep in freezing conditions, and neither can they!
Silkworms are domesticated, meaning that they cannot be found in the wild. The only way to get your hands on them is by getting them off a friend or by purchasing them off a seller such as ourselves!
Answer: It depends!
All Silkworm eggs require a period of at least 3 months in a refrigerator, to hatch. Why? Silkworms are domesticated. They only can be found inside shoeboxes and large Sericulture farms. Once upon a time, before this was the case, a Silkworm would only eat the leaves of a Mulberry tree. The problem is that Mulberry Trees lose their leaves in Winter! Naturally, the Silkworm grew to adapt its life-cycle which coincides with that of the Mulberry Tree.
Considering the above, all eggs that you purchase from our online store are ready to hatch – and will already have been “wintered” Do not put your eggs back in the fridge after making or your order, or else they will die – as they will have already started developing.
For this reason, the best time of the year in terms of food and temperature is naturally Spring, for Silkworms.
No. Your eggs have already begun to develop. They will die if you try to halt their development.
There are two reasons your Silkworms do not seem lively. This could be because:
– The weather is cold. Silkworms have cold blood so need warmer weather
– They are getting ready to cocoon and are preserving their energy
Silk-Moths mate continuously for 12-24 hours. At the end of this time-period, the pair will seperate – which is usually initiated by the male.
The male will look for a new female to mate with after seperating from its partner, while the female will lay any eggs that she may be storing. After laying the eggs, the female will die shortly thereafter.
Silk-Moths cannot fly due to the fact Silkworms have been domesticated for thousands of years. Some Moths, however, look a lot healthier than others, and if you pick one up and give it a gentle drop, it may surprise both you and itself and fly for a short period of time!
You do not need to feed your Silk-Moths – in fact it is not possible to! As a result of their domestication, over time, Silk-Moths have lost the ability to eat. They have a very short life as Moths, and approximately 10 days after hatching they will die.
After a Silkworm spins its cocoon, it will begin to develop into a Moth. This process takes no longer than 14 days, as it develops from a Silkworm, to a Pupa and finally into a Moth.
Silk-Moths can no longer fly due to years of domestication. Some males may be able to fly if you drop them from a small height, however it is uncontrolled, and they will hit the ground after only a few moments.
It is quite easy to separate the male and female Silk-Moths, with the females having larger abdomens – for their eggs – and males possessing smaller abdomens. Males also tend to be more active, as they are constantly searching for a mate. The moth lives a very brief life of 5-10 days, with males generally living longer than Females. Silk-Moths will begin to search for a mate almost immediately after emerging from their cocoon, with some seen mating with a moth of the opposite sex inside their cocoon – should they share their cocoon with another Moth of the opposite sex! After mating, the Female Moth will lay between 300-500 eggs, and die, whereas the male Silk-Moth will search for another mate, should it not be too old.
Silkworms have different colour cocoons to each other. This is similar to humans having different colour hair, or eyes – it’s genetic.
For example, when a two Moths that spins gold cocoons mate with each other, the result will be an offspring who spins gold-coloured Silk. If a Moth who spins gold Silk mates with a Moth who spins white Silk, the result will be an offspring who spins lime-coloured Silk.
If you would like specific colours, seperate cocoons from each other before the Moths emerge, to ensure the correct pairings mate with each other.
Your Silkworm cocoons are the purest form of Silk that you will find.
You can put your cocoons in a solution (see “Spinning Silk Cocoons” page) in order to prepare the cocoons for spinning so you can prepare beautiful Silk products such as; scarves, bookmarks, or even ties!
If you do not have any use for your cocoons, we would love you to send them to us! We are currently looking to undertake a major project transforming the Australian Silk landscape and we need your help. If you would like more information or if you have spare cocoons and would like to be part of something special please contact us here.
Your Silkworms’ cocoons are pure Silk, and exactly what is used in the Silk products that you find on store’s shelves. The difference? Yours are probably much higher quality, except you probably don’t have 1000’s upon 1000’s, and the equipment required to “spin” it. It takes approximately 1000 cocoons to make a single tie.
For this reason, the Silk from your cocoons is best used as a facial treatment, or to create smaller items, like bookmarks.
A tip to achieving better quality Silk is to feed your Silkworms a diet of Mulberry Leaves.
We’re sure that some of our followers use their Silk. Leave a comment with your creations below! You can use them to make various woven materials or even soaps. We’d love to know what you do.
Don’t have Mulberry Leaves, but you want to raise Silkworms? Don’t worry – we have a solution! It’s called Silkworm Chow.
Silkworm Chow is the only other food that Silkworms can eat, that will sustain them through an entire life-cycle. It is predominantly made of dried mulberry leaves, and is prepared by simply adding boiling water, and then storing in a refrigerator. Some people even elect to feed their Silkworms on Silkworm Chow, because it means that they don’t need to worry about the common problem of infected Mulberry Leaves (sprayed with insecticide or too hard).
Because of Silkworm Chow, Silkworms can be bred year-round in Australia – all you need to do is meet their temperature requirements.
If you would like to buy Silkworm Chow, you can find it for sale on our website in various quantities.
If your order comes with a product that involves the raising of live Silkworms at any stage of their development, you will receive a FREE instruction sheet on how to best care for your Silkworms, along with a contact card – so you can contact us with ease, should you have any questions regarding raising Silkworms. All products that contain Silkworm Chow include a complimentary instruction sheet explaining how to make the Chow.