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Posts Tagged ‘cocoons’

Moths Emerge

I just wanted to finish up my silk worm saga with a few pictures of the emerging adult moths:

The moths secrete a substance that disolves the silk on one side so they can wiggle out.  You can kill the larvae inside the cocoon to prevent that since you will lose some of the silk, but I wanted to see the process through to the end (and let the poor things have a little fun).  Basically, the emerge, dry their wings and spend a few days mating frantically before expiring.  The female is on the left (and I think in all the top photos) with a heavier egg heavy body and smaller twisted wings.  I don’t think the females can fly even in wild silk moths.  The males are lighter, with larger wings and domestic one are generally flightless although I did have one manage to take a short flight!  Don’t tell my son though.  He was NOT happy with the whole project, lol.

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When I last posted about my silkworms, they were about 6 days old and mostly in their second instar/stage.  About three weeks and three molts later and they were 2-3 inch long, plump and voracious fifth instar wormies.  They finished up their chow soon after that molt.  I made up a second batch.  Thistime they finished it within a few short days!  Since they were due to start spinning at ant time and the commercial chow was getting expensive, I starting asking around to see if anyone I knew has a mulberry or osage orange tree.  Luckily, I found someone with a mulberry.  I figured one good sized trash bag would get me through.

 

 

Wrong!  They loved the fresh food and showed no sign of slowing down.  I drove to my friend’s 3 or 4 times to steal branche prune her tree.  Just a few silkies were showing signs that maybe, just maybe they would start spinning soon, but this was getting old fast.  So I starting looking around the neighborhood.  Just a couple blocks away, in a vacant lot next to a church yard I spied a pair of mulberry trees.  YES!  The silkies seem to like the new leaves well enough, but still most weren’t cocooning up.

 

 

A few did start to change.  Toilette paper tubes make nice places for the worms to settle down for a spin.  They start by anchoring a few threads and then make a comfy hammock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then they keep spinning untill they have a nice safe cocoon.

Unfortunately, most of my silworms did not ever pupate.  Out of my 500+ worms that made it to the fifth instar, maybe 10% spun cocoons and some of those were on the thin side–the worm clearly died before finishing.  The rest just kept eating until they wore out and died.  I suspect my neighborhood trees may have been sprayed.  I’ve seen tent caterpillars in the area and I know some of the sprays they use for that are grow inhibitors that might prevent molting or pupating.  I would like to try this again, but not until I have my own mulberry tree that I know is safe and I might want to hatch out fewer caterpillars!

Next: Mothra emerges

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