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Silkmoths

July 29, 2007

Remember?

July 26, 2006
Munching poly cat.

July 23, 2007
A lovely lady hatches.

Her wingspan is almost four inches.

The next day she was joined by a male.

He’s drying his wings.

That night in the wee hours she released her scent call. He answered.

In the morning she began laying her eggs on the side of the bucket.

The rounds of mating and egg-laying went on for three nights and three days.

She gifted the bucket with more than 200 eggs, her life’s work.

On the fourth day there were no more eggs. Their work complete, the spent moths died.
I put away their white silk cocoons to card and spin.

When the eggs start hatching I’ll hang the bucket in a mesh sleeve in my oak tree. The cycle will begin again.

It’s been a trip.

You can read more about these remarkable moths and see some spectacular photos here.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2007 8:25 am

    Wow!! So will you really have 200 caterpillars this year?!? Are these the only mommy and daddy from last year’s livestock?
    I can’t wait to see the spinning!

  2. July 30, 2007 8:36 am

    That is amazing. How many cocoons does it take to get a reasonable amount of fiber for spinning?

  3. July 30, 2007 11:32 am

    I really want to see what happens when you process those cocoons into fiber!

  4. Jan permalink
    July 30, 2007 11:44 am

    So far these are the only ones that that could reproduce. Some that hatched weren’t fully developed, and one poor fellow is the only one of his kind. There are more to go, though.
    Nope there won’t be anywhere near 200 hungry mouths to feed. Some eggs won’t hatch, and a lot of the caterpillars will get lost along the way. I guess it’s nature’s way of keeping balance. A couple dozen left to spin up would make me happy.
    A couple of dozen cocoons would give enough silk for a small scarf. That would be fun.

  5. July 30, 2007 12:03 pm

    Ms. Jan, email me your snail mail address, and I’ll send you a present! Tell me also–how many yards of carpet warp do you need to make this work? (rough estimate) I can even wander back up the street and buy more if you need it…

  6. Paula permalink
    July 30, 2007 4:06 pm

    I thought Silk worms ate Mulberry leaves? at least that’s what my kids 5th grade teacher taught them…

  7. Jan permalink
    July 30, 2007 5:02 pm

    Paula, you are right. The cultivated silk worm (Bombyx) of Asia eats nothing but mulberry leaves. These are North American relatives. (The poly here is a cousin of the tussah silk moth.) These species grow wild here. They eat a variety of native plants.
    You and your kids might enjoy exploring this site:
    http://www.wormspit.com

  8. July 30, 2007 8:23 pm

    So, I guess that makes you a grand-moth-er, right?
    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Congratulations!

  9. July 31, 2007 9:50 am

    Wow. That’s pretty amazing raising little caterpillars into grown up moths. I can’t wait to see photos about the coccoon processing and next years hatchlings.
    Congrats!

  10. August 1, 2007 11:31 am

    What a wonderful story and photo journal! Thanks for sharing this unique view into the origins of the silk we spin.

  11. August 3, 2007 7:27 am

    They are beautiful! You amaze me Jan!!

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