How many stages are there in the Life Cycle of a Silkworm?

Posted on March 27th, 2021
Life Cycle of a Silkworm
Life Cycle of a Silkmoth

How many stages are there in the Life Cycle of a Silkworm?

 

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What Are Fibers?

A material comprised of continuous and thin strands is called “Fiber”. Fibers are of two types: natural and synthetic. Natural Fibers are the fibers that are obtained from plants and animals, whereas are man-made Fibers are classified as synthetic fibers. Examples of natural Fibers are cotton and silk are the examples of natural fibers, whereas nylon and polyester are examples of synthetic Fibers. Silk is a type of animal Fiber (natural Fiber). Silkworm is used for spinning silk and also reared to get silk.

silkworm
silkworm

History of silk

Around 3500 BC, silk was discovered in China. A long time ago, silk was exported to several parts of the world through trade. New development, as well as technological advancement, has enabled manufacturers to produce different types of silk from different silkworms based on texture and luster. The most common silk moth that is used for producing silk is Mulberry silk. Sericulture is the term associated with the rearing of silkworms.

history of silk
history of silk

The life cycle of silkworm

The life cycle of the silk moth starts when a female silk moth lays eggs. The caterpillar or larvae are hatched from the eggs of the silk moth. The silkworms feed on mulberry leaves and result in the formation of the pupa. A weave is netted around by the silkworm to hold itself in the pupa stage. After that it swings its head, spinning a Fiber made up of protein and that becomes silk Fiber. A protective layer is formed by the several caterpillars around the pupa and this covering is known as the cocoon. The silk yarn (thread) is obtained from the silk moth’s cocoon. The life cycle of the silkworm has been explained below.

The life cycle of silkworm
The life cycle of silkworm

Stage 1: Egg

The egg is the first stage of the life cycle of the silkworm. The egg is laid by a female moth which is mostly the size of small dots. A female moth lays more than 350 eggs at a time. In the springtime, the eggs hatch due to the warmth in the air. This procedure happens once in every year.

Stage 2: Silkworm

A hairy silkworm arises after the eggs crack. In this stage of silkworms, the growth happens. They feed on mulberry leaves and consume a large amount of these leaves for around 30 days before going to the next stage.

Stage 3: Cocoon

In this stage, silkworms spin a protective cocoon around itself. It is the size of a small cotton ball and is made of a single thread of silk.

Stage 4: Pupa

Their bodies become slightly yellow and their skin becomes tighter to enter the pupa phase of their lifestyle after they have molted four times, they enclose themselves in a cocoon made up of raw silk produced by the salivary glands. The final molt from larva to pupa takes place within the cocoon, which provides protection during the vulnerable, motionless pupa state of the silkmoth

Stage 5: Moth

In the final stage, the pupa changes into an adult moth. The male moth is smaller than the female. The female moth releases pheromones to attract male moths. The male moth has longer antennae to detect pheromones from a distance. When the two meet each other, they copulate and the life cycle begins again.

Processing of silk

Extracting silk from the cocoon is known as the processing of silk. Silk is separated from the cocoon by exposing it to sunlight. After the reeling of silk is done, the process of unwinding silk from a cocoon takes place. Silk thread is then bleached. The silk Fiber is then spun into silk threads.

Some facts about silkmoth

  • Its scientific name is Bombyx.
  • It is an insect that belongs to the moth family Bombycidae.
  • The duration of the life-cycle of a silkworm ranges from 6-8 weeks.
  • The warmer the weather, the faster the silkworm will complete its life-cycle. The other important factors are humidity and exposure to sunlight.

Steps for the production of silk

  • Eggs are warmed to a suitable temperature for the larvae to hatch from eggs.
  • Fibers are taken out from the cocoon.
  • After 25-30 days, the caterpillars stop eating and start spinning cocoons.
  • The larvae/caterpillars or silkworms are kept in clean trays along with freshly chopped mulberry leaves.
  • Female silk moths lay eggs.
  • Cocoons are kept under the sun or boiled in water.

 

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Bombyx Mori: Biology and Life cycle

The mulberry silk moth, Bombyx mori belongs to the family Bombycidae. China is the native place of this moth, but now it is totally domesticated and successfully reared in India, Japan, Korea, Italy, France, and Russia. In India, 92% of the country’s silk production comes from mulberry moth.

Life cycle of Bombyx mori

The worm or larva of this moth solely feeds on leaves of the mulberry plant, so named as, mulberry worm. It’s wild ance­stor B.mandarina still occurs in some isolated areas of Himalaya’s foothill.

Bombyx mori being a holometabolous insect undergoes complete metamorphosis with four stages in its life cycle, viz., egg, larva, pupa, and adult (shown above). Sexual dimorphism is present in the adult, pupa, and larval stages of the life cycle.

Bombyx mori
Bombyx mori

The duration of each stage varies according to inherited characters of the race and also with the available environmental conditions, quality of food provided, etc.

Important points to remember

  • Natural silk is polyamide.
  • Secretion is the product of caterpillar forms silk.
  • Silk is obtained from the cocoon of the silk moth.
  • Artificial silk is

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