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General Information, Caring For & Breeding Silkworms


Background

Silkworms are the larva of a moth (Bombyx mori) native to Asia that spins a cocoon of fine, strong, lustrous fiber that is the source of commercial silk. The culture of silkworms is called sericulture. The various species of silkworms raised today are distinguished by the quality of the silk they produce. Silkworms feed on the leaves of the mulberries (genus Morus) and sometimes on the 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.

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.

Silkworms go through four stages of development, as do most insects: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult (imago) stage is the silkworm moth. The larva is the silkworm caterpillar. The pupa is what the silkworm changes into after spinning its cocoon before emerging as a moth. Since the silkworm grows so much, it must shed its skin four times while it is growing. These stages-within-a-stage are called instars.

Today, the 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 the ability to fly. All wild populations are extinct. Also contributing to their extinction is the 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 the males detect the chemicals with olfactory hairs on their antennae. This allows the male to find the female for mating. The male antennae are made of many small hairs to increase the chances of picking up small amounts of the pheromones over long distances.

How to Grow Your Worms to the Perfect Size

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 the 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 the worms or the food or they may develop bacterial problems. Using a cheese grater, grate a small amount of food onto the worms and repeat until the worms reach the desired size. For best results, maintain temperatures between 78° and 88° F.

Excessive condensation forming in the container after feeding is the leading cause of failure. If this condensation does form, take the lid off your container and allow the container and old food to completely dry out. In the future, make sure the previous food is dry before feeding again. Old damp food is a breeding ground for mold and other problems, dry food is not.

As the silkworms grow, you may need to transfer your worms to a larger plastic container. The lid needs to have ventilation holes. If not, you need to vent the lid so the silkworms won't suffocate and to allow condensation to dissipate. You can also use a shoebox. The old food and waste matter can be removed, but does not have to be if it remains thoroughly dry.

Under ideal conditions (78° to 88° F and allowed to feed nearly continuously) silkworms can go from egg to 1 inch in length in about 12 days, and 3 inches in under 30 days. The worms will begin to spin cocoons at about 28 - 30 days old or when they are between 2 1/2 and 3 inches long.

From Cocoon to Moth

Silkworm moths emerge from their cocoons after spending about two to three weeks metamorphosing. As moths, they do not eat or fly. They will usually mate, lay eggs and die within a week. Fertile eggs turn from yellow to gray or purple in a week or so. If the eggs don't hatch within 3 weeks, they usually will not hatch until the following year (see above-from egg to larva).

Proper Handling Procedures

Again, in order for your worms to stay healthy for many weeks, you'll need to keep the silkworms as dry as possible. If condensation builds up during feeding, vent the container lid to prevent excess humidity.

Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling the worms or their food. Silkworms can be susceptible to bacteria if you don't properly handle them. As long as the container environment remains dry, your worms will be fine.

Mold develops from high temperatures and high humidity. If the worms are covered with droppings, silk and old food for too long, mold may develop and kill the worms. If mold does develop, grate about 1/4 inch of food (sold separately) all over the worms with a cheese grater. As the worms crawl to the top of the new food pile you can transfer them off the moldy food and place them into a new container.

Silkworms are susceptible to bruising and dying if not handled with care, especially as they grow larger. When handling and transferring the worms, be very gentle.

Shop for Silkworms

Mark Spranger is the owner of http://www.silkwormshop.com and http://www.buyfruitflies.com


TODAYS NEWS BY OFFICEJAX FREE ADVERTISING AND AD EXCHANGE SOLUTIONSMORE PETS INFORMATION RESOURCES updated Wed. January / 22 / 2020

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Peacocks, miniature horses, cats can no longer fly as service animals under proposed DOT rule  NBC News

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Small Door, the OneMedical for pets, launches NYC location  TechCrunch

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Pets on the Plaza: Meet Grace - 47abc  WMDT

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Delta rolls out safer pet carriers, hoping more passengers will put animals in cargo  Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Rescued pets from earthquake-ravaged Puerto Rico end up at East Coast shelters  Fox News

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Pets of the Week: Benny and Minnie  Chesterfield Observer

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Fires displace families, kill pets during past week  Taylorsville Times

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Are you leaving your pet outdoors in cold weather? These laws apply to you  WHNT News 19

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Pets 101: Care Tips For New Pet Owners  Long Island Press

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Be responsible with your pets  Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

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Marion County Pets: Meet Wiggles, Dulce and Fenway  WCJB

Domestic abusers in Florida could lose contact with pets - Orlando Weekly
Domestic abusers in Florida could lose contact with pets  Orlando Weekly

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San Gabriel Valley pets of the week: Why get 1 kitty when you can have 5?  The Pasadena Star-News

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PetMed Express Inc (PETS) Q3 2019 Earnings Call Transcript  Motley Fool

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Adoptable pets from Arizona Humane Society and Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (1/22/20)  ABC15 Arizona

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Pet Winter Safety  WJAC Johnstown

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Pics: It's cold in Florida. Pets keeping warm with dog sweaters, blankets  TCPalm

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Adoptable Pets Of The Week: Tiger, Ellie, Matoli, Wookie, Seven  Rockville, MD Patch

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Routt County adoptable pets: Bandit the cat and Oreo the dog  Steamboat Pilot & Today

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Four pets missing after northeast Austin duplex fire  KXAN.com

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A 'Secret Life of Pets' ride is opening at Universal Studios Hollywood this spring — here's everything we know  INSIDER

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Area pets available for adoption (PHOTOS), Jan 22, 2020  OregonLive

Shelter pets could become Florida's official state pet - WCTV
Shelter pets could become Florida's official state pet  WCTV

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What's the Most Expensive Thing Your Pet Ruined?  khak.com

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Pets at Home delivered strong same-store revenue growth over Christmas  MarketWatch

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Bay Area preps plants, pets for cold snap  FOX 13 Tampa Bay

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Popovich Comedy Pet Theater to bring animal hijinks to local stage  Springfield News Sun

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New pet food pantry opens in Stark County  WKYC.com

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14 displaced after 2-alarm condo fire in Hilltop area  WAVY.com

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Kent Humane Society hosting seminar to get babies ready for pets FOX 17 8:48 AM  Fox17

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Number of pets per household will increase as city opens negotiations with spcaLA  Long Beach Post

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Northport Adoptable Pets Of The Week: Anchovy & Mussel  Northport, NY Patch

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8-year-old donates her birthday to P.E.T.S.  KAUZ

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Banfield Pet Hospital's 4th Annual Veterinary Emerging Topics (VET)® Report Reveals Pet Obesity Still on the Rise  NBC Right Now

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Pet Pals: Luna  WLOS

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Reminder: Leaving pets outside in frigid temps is a crime  wpde.com

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KCBD’s Pet of the Day: Meet Smith  KCBD

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Pets and the People Who Love Them | Lifestyles  News Courier

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Animal Tales: Lewiston woman keeps pets in style  Lewiston Sun Journal

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8 Best Pet Insurance in Maine Options for 2020 • Benzinga  Benzinga

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Pets of the week, Jan. 22 | Gallery  Hickory Daily Record

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Pet of the Week: Ranger  KGNS.tv

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Buying pet food at Costco saves me over $500 a year, and my animals love it, too  Business Insider

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Domestic abusers could lose contact with pets if bill in Florida legislature passes  FOX 13 Tampa Bay

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NJ pets in need: Jan. 20, 2020  NJ.com

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Local News Fire displaces Johnson County family, kills 3 pets 41 Action News Staff 5:03  KSHB

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Five Nice Pet-Friendly Apartments for Rent in Boston  Boston magazine

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Spotify unveils playlists for pets | TheHill  The Hill

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WATCH: Fisherman pets mako shark to prove point  For The Win

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Animal advocates remind community to keep a close eye on outdoor pets this winter  WJW FOX 8 News Cleveland

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Pets of the week: Norma Jean is a couch-cuddler who wants snuggle up with you  MLive.com

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Six pets die in Sioux Falls fire  KSFY

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Humane Society hosting 'Love a Shelter Pet' day with animals, activities for kids  WNWO NBC 24

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Meet Klondike, this week's adoptable pet  Williamsburg Yorktown Daily

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Coyote breeding season coming soon, CPW warns pet owners  KJCT8.com

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FOX Finders Pet Finder - Morgause  WSYM-TV

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Do you have a top dog? Enter your pet in TODAY's 'Best in Show' contest!  Today.com

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New Clay County weed extremely toxic to humans, pets  INFORUM

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Pet donors needed as veterinary hospitals face critical blood shortages  CBS46 News Atlanta

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Bellingham man accused of killing wife, pets remains hospitalized in Seattle  Seattle Times

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The Pet Corner: Don't judge a pet by its fur - Winchester Sun  Winchester Sun

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Pet of the Week: Ms. Waffles  WITN

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Police: 6 pets killed in mobile home fire  KSFY

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Cincinnati search dog who helped find more than 500 lost pets has died  WLWT Cincinnati

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At-Risk Puerto Rico Shelter Pets Flown to New Jersey  NBC New York

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Frisco Leaders Approve New Pet Store Regulations After Undercover Investigation  NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Pet Project: Meet Turkey and his siblings  WSAW

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Mountain Humane Animal Shelter creates happy environment for shelter pets  KMVT

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Blind woman asks public, pet owners to be aware of service animals  WTOL

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Philippines farm shelters pets rescued from volcano  Yahoo News

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Colorado lawmakers discussing banning sales of dogs and cats at pet stores  KSTU FOX 13 Salt Lake City

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Lafayette native’s passion paw-sitvely impacting pet lovers  Colorado Hometown Weekly

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Great Kills fire, the morning after: FDNY still on scene, pets survived  SILive.com

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Freezing Weather — Protecting Pets, Plants, Pipes And Other Tips  NorthEscambia.com

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Ohio States veterinary social worker helps pet owners cope with grief, tough choices  The Columbus Dispatch

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Pet Talk: First Aid for pets  KBTX

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Proposed bill would prevent Colorado pet stores from selling dogs, cats  KRDO

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Pet detective helps families track down lost pets as a community service  KGW.com

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Putting your pet to the test for bacteria  WKOW

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Doggie Style Pets groomed 12-year-old Maltese pups, and one died. Then came the lawsuits.  The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Pet of the Week - Stella  News8000.com - WKBT

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Arlington Pet of the Week: Heidi  ARLnow

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Family displaced, pets killed in Westmoreland house fire  The Keene Sentinel

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Frigid temperatures can hurt your pet's health  WKYT

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Meet the Pet of the Week: Atka  Channel3000.com - WISC-TV3

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The Activists Who've Saved 1000 Pets From Syria's War Zones  OZY

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Person, two pets escape house fire in Westminster  Baltimore Sun

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Clay County using facial recognition to help reunited lost pets with owners  WJXT News4JAX

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Pet of the Week: 2020 pets  WTOP

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Family's pets don't make it out alive after home catches fire in Evansville  WMTV

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Marijuana legalization could be leading to more pets getting sick from THC  WWMT-TV

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Why Pet Shop Boys are still the cleverest men in pop  BBC News

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Ultrasensitive PET enables sub-second total-body imaging  physicsworld.com

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Colorado-Based Puppy Mill Awareness Organization, Harley's Dream, Endorses Humane Pet Act  PRNewswire

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Pet of the Week: Kiwi  WXII12 Winston-Salem

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Cheetah smuggling out of Ethiopia 'fuelled by exotic pets demand'  BBC News

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14 Adoptable Cincinnati Pets Looking For Families to Snuggle With  Cincinnati CityBeat

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Pets at Home groomed for 2020 glory after record Christmas  City A.M.

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A 2nd Chance Pet of the Week  Hillsboro Times Gazette

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Providence Animal Center Pet of the Week: Zoey  The Delaware County Daily Times

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