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This week a friend of mine asked me if I'd like some silkworms. She knew I was an experienced silkworm mom and she had received way too many from her order in the mail.

So, now we have tiny silkworm caterpillars to feed.

They are so adorable, how could I say no?

(See our previous posts about the silkworm life cycle and the history of silkworms.)

While picking leaves in the yard this morning for the silkworms, I found this giant swallowtail butterfly.

It's pretty bedraggled. What do you think happened to it?

 

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Awhile back, I showed you the life stages of the silkworm moth. I missed one stage, however, so here they are:

silkworm-eggs

silkworm-eggs2

Silkworm moth eggs.

In case you are wondering, the female moth in the top photograph laid her eggs on a paper towel. The female in the bottom photograph laid on a cardboard egg carton.

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It has been cold and rainy here this week, but we still have plenty of insects. You see, they are all indoors.

Here is the story of our silkworms in photographs:

We bought our caterpillars over the Internet. They arrived in a plastic cup. Look at all the colors!

The caterpillars ate a commercial food made up of dried mulberry leaves and thickeners. We bought some extra food from the supplier, because we weren't sure we could find mulberry leaves. We made it in the microwave by mixing the powder with water and cooking it.

After a few weeks, we did find some mulberry leaves.

The caterpillars ate a lot of mulberry leaves.

The caterpillar makes silk with a gland that exits in its mouth.

When they are ready to pupate, the caterpillars start to make a silk bag around themselves, which is the cocoon. The cocoon is what is used to make the fabric silk.

When we did this before, all the cocoons were white. This time they were white, pale yellow and deep golden yellow. (The colors have to do with the mix of varieties we got.)

After about two weeks (depends on the temperature), the first moths emerged.

This is a male. Isn't he cute?

The females laid eggs on other cocoons and on some cardboard egg cartons we provided.

silkworm-eggs2

The eggs are the size of pinheads or slightly larger. They are light to dark gray in color.

The best part of this project has been sharing the caterpillars and the stories with our friends.

For more information about silkworms, see Silkworms: A Thread through History, and also the link at the end of that post.

Related books (with Affiliate links to Amazon)

Silkworm (Life Cycle of a . . .) by Ron Fridell and Patricia Walsh

Age Range: 6 - 8 years
Publisher: Heinemann; 2nd Edition edition (August 15, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1432925458
ISBN-13: 978-1432925451

The Story of Silk: From Worm Spit to Woven Scarves (Traveling Photographer) by Richard Sobol

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Candlewick (September 25, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0763641650
ISBN-13: 978-0763641658