Tuesday, December 29, 2009

There is no such thing as a silk worm (it's a caterpillar, silly)

Another wonderful natural fiber, silk is a protein obtained from cocoons made by the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori. I always thought the cute little worms, err, caterpillars, were raised and somehow "milked" for their silk. It is a lot more ugly. Commercially reared silkworm pupae are killed by steaming, dipping in boiling water or freezing them before the adult moths emerge, allowing the whole cocoon to be unraveled as one continuous thread. I expect some of them are allowed to mature to make more eggs that turn into more pupae. If the pupae break through the cocoon then the continuous thread made for the cocoon is broken. So a lot of little guys get boiled before they get to be moths. More on the process later. But appreciate that soft nighty or warm scarf.

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