Monday, June 6, 2011

Raising Silkworms

Bieber getting comfy on her queen-size bed.

Happy news! We have two new additions to our family. They are a pair of silkmoths and their names are Justin and Bieber. They were foisted upon us--I mean, we adopted them from my son's second-grade science class. By the time Max brought them home, the rest of our family had missed the real action--the cocoon spinning and subsequent hatching.

Justin and Bieber's love nest, covered with gauze.

The moment Max got them through the front door, he and Elise disappeared for about two hours. When they emerged, Elise had created an amazing studio apartment for them, complete with a sofa for lounging, a rug on the floor, and a queen-size bed with silk sheets. Hubba hubba! I guess it set the mood, because within a few hours, Bieber started laying eggs.

She pushes this thing out of her tail and the eggs drop out. These were the first two eggs.

A little later.

From what Max told me, silkmoths do not have mouths; they hatch, mate, the female lays eggs, then both male and female silkmoths die, their life cycle completed. Kind of sad, but we kept it matter of fact and when Justin kicked the bucket Max was OK.

RIP Justin

So what happens when Bieber's eggs hatch? (There can be up to 500, apparently.) No mainstream nursery in our area carried Mulberry trees, which is what the silkworms eat, so it was off to Exotica yesterday, where I found a 7-foot-tall Russian Mulberry tree and somehow jammed it into my Altima Hybrid for the trip home. Sean planted it and now we wait.

15-year-olds sure do come in handy.

To be continued...


  1. You just never know what direction your life will take when you have kids! Raising silk worms - how cool! Your photos are great and I love the moth's names!

  2. Holy moley. Currently glad that this is not me, although in about 10 years it probably will be. Good luck!

  3. Haha, that's what I call adventure! Raising silk moths... how weird can that be! Anyway, one can tell you've taken good care of them. So, when can we expect the eggs to hatch? And what then?

  4. That is the neatest thing ever! When the tons of lil' silkworms make their cocoon, what shall you do with the luscious silk thread cocoon after they emerge?

  5. I guess they take about 10 days to hatch, then we put them on the mulberry tree. We have one cocoon already but I'm not sure what to do with it! One web site said to find the end and unwrap it and use the thread but it is so thin I don't know how we could use it. Plus finding the end sounds like a needle-in-a-haystack task.

  6. Oooh...I've been thinking of doing this. Have you found and ?

  7. Thanks Melissa, I just checked it out. So far I only see chicken posts but I'll keep digging.

  8. Janet, you are truly the coolest mom ever!! You actually went and bout the tree?? Woo Hoo!!
    I grew up with a huge, really, really huge mulberry tree in our front yard and we were responsible for bringing the "food" to the class. What did you do with the eggs? My mom used to put them into the fridge for a while... not sure why she did that. I'll have to ask her!

  9. Forgot to mention Elise's wonderful "decorating"! Well done!

  10. Kim, I read somewhere that the trees are deciduous and when that happens you can keep the eggs in the frig in hibernation until the leaves come out again...don't know if that is going to happen--I'm not quite that cool.