Springtime Science with Silkworms!

For the last 5-6 weeks we have had the chance to study and observe a Silkworm! These fascinating insects are not worms at all, but rather they are caterpillars! Silkworms have an interesting history dating back to ancient China. According to my first grade son, this is how the story goes: “One day an Empress in China was having tea, and while she was having a tea, a silkworm cocoon fell into her tea and unraveled. This is how they discovered silk!”

What do Silkworms eat? Mulberry leaves! We embarked on an adventure to find a Mulberry tree, which was more difficult than we thought! We finally found a mature mulberry tree that had beautiful fruit and healthy leaves. We collected several leaves to feed our fast growing silkworm.

The silkworm continued to grow and grow by eating 2-3 mulberry leaves each day! Soon enough the silkworm started spinning its cocoon and started its journey to transforming into a silk moth. The kids loved to check on “Leafy”(I just love the names my son picks for animals and insects!) to see how he was doing each day. They were anxious to see him build his cocoon and eventually become a silk moth!

After about 4 weeks, “Leafy” started building his cocoon, and about 2 weeks later, he emerged as a silk moth! What amazed me was how quickly he built his cocoon! We saw that he was building it one evening, and by morning, it was completed!

Fun fact: if you were to unravel the silk from the cocoon, it was stretch about 1 mile long!

We decided to take the Silk Moth back to a Mulberry tree to live out its days. This was harder for my son to accept, since he believed that “Leafy” is female (which is possible!) and he wanted her to lay eggs and continue to have silkworms for ever and ever! He resigned to the idea of giving “Leafy” a nice last few days on a Mulberry Tree out in nature. Interestingly, the silk moth only lives for 5 days after it emerges from the cocoon. If a female silkworm does mate, she can lay between 200-500 eggs!






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