Posts Tagged ‘raising silkworms’


July 5, 2010

White Asiatic Lily

We are apparently in midsummer, but I feel like I’m just beginning the season. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out exactly what my summer goals are, even though I’ve been planning for it since last fall. When the time comes, I don’t know what to do with it. I’m in limbo even though, actually, I’ve been productive – at least making or “playing”.

Triangle explorations – itajime

I really want to feel the season:  the heat and humidity, rest & refreshment (after the school year), the insect sounds, garden colors and and the time to soak  fabric in dye, then hang them on the line outdoors. It’s what I’ve been looking forward to all year. Then, it takes so long to approach it.

Pole beans & fried green tomatoes

Along the way, though, has been the pleasure of good food from the farmer’s market &  produce box which arrives each week.  The aromas and colors of these farm fresh vegetables are dizzying.   I’ve been introduced to new vegetables, recipes and tastes.  It’s been fun and summer’s just beginning.  There has also been a little added mystery.

It’s a frustrating mystery, but at this point, I’m starting to take it in stride.   It’s nature and it’s all that can be said.  The silkworm project keeps “shrinking.” I’m not sure why. Last year I had no problems raising them.  I might have lost one in the process.  All I did was feed, clean their living quarters regularly and watch them.  It was so simple.   This year I can’t seem to do it and I’m puzzled.  I’ve tried several times over with different batches and they all die after a point.  Last week, I lost over half of my final batch for the summer leaving me with about a dozen.  Today I have about 9 healthy worms.  I wonder if it’s the environment.  I’ve wondered lots of things and don’t really have an answer.  It seems it isn’t the year for it and in that, there is something to learn and appreciate – the wonder and mystery of the silkworm.



May 21, 2010


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Sometimes things just don’t work out, but it doesn’t mean I’m giving up, not by a long shot. These little guys didn’t survive for some reason. Something made them sick and I have no idea what. Up until now, they were eating voraciously and growing at what seemed a good rate.  I don’t know if it was the leaves or perhaps the room temperature that affected them.  It was cooler than I expected on my return home (from my Missoula trip) and I didn’t pay attention to that aspect of things.

I do have another group of eggs started from week ago, though and brought another bunch out of the ‘fridge today, just to be safe. I’m not giving up, but it does make me wonder and want to learn more about these little creatures.

It also makes me think about the venture in Silk Hope, NC that didn’t work out. Apparently there is no evidence of that industry today.  The only site that I’ve found telling a story about it says that the gentleman grew Mulberry trees, ordered his caterpillars from China, then when they were placed on the leaves, would not eat.

When I read that, I wondered about where and how he learned about the process. It isn’t my approach (not that I’m an expert) and it isn’t how I’ve seen it done in Japan. At any rate, the story is apparently lore and it’s just a thing I think about when raising my own “worms” in North Carolina.

Silkworm hatchling – day 1

April 11, 2010

hatchling – day 1

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Finally, after waiting for a good 2 weeks a tiny caterpillar has emerged. I was beginning to wonder if it would happen. I’m hoping the rest of the eggs will hatch soon. I’ve got many more if this batch doesn’t work out. It’s good to see though.

The mulberry shrubs began leafing out a good 2 weeks ago, a good indicator as to when to begin this undertaking. Although, I suppose I could have even started before. My concern is always whether or not my food supply will last and will I, in the end, have to forage outside of my yard for more? This year though, I’m seeing even more mulberry sprouts around.

The silkie moths & their eggs

July 2, 2009

Laying eggs 1

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I have to hand it to the Chinese, Japanese and other cultures who have it all figured out, so that it’s a neater and more manageable process. I’d like to improve on it but that will take some time. In the meantime, things are really, finally coming to a close for the season.

Most of the eggs have been laid and it seems as though most of them have also been fertilized (they are the dark ones). They were a light yellow then went to a blue. Some are still in that transitional state. So, I’m finally collecting them for refrigeration and starting to clean up the mess. I hope to have it all tidied up over the weekend, as I’m traveling to Florida for a family visit in the very near future.

A silkworm haiku by Issa:

mura naka ni kigen toraruru kaiko kana

the whole village
pays them court…

Simply Irresistible

June 23, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

It happened a little earlier than expected and what I even determined in the “wrong” box…but here he or she is…newly hatched. Another cocoon nearby was moving actively. I suppose there could be another tomorrow.


June 12, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

At this point, I’ve come full circle (or cycle) from the time I started this little venture last spring. Beth gave me some of her cocoons at the school year’s end and I brought them home to await the next and last aspect of this cycle.

At this point, I have 30 cocoons and expect to have 50 or maybe a few less (depends on the outcome). It’ll be roughly 2 weeks before hatching, so there’s still more of a wait before I’m back to the beginning (with even more eggs – yikes!).

So, the questions still remains: what to do with the cocoon? That’s something I have yet to experience and isn’t that the point of all this?


June 8, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

This was taken as it was still being spun. At this stage the cocoon was thin enough to see the “worm” still working. Today, it’s thicker but still a soft yellow. I’d hoped to see the others follow suite, but they are taking their time.

In the meantime, I watch them periodically and make sure they still get fed several times a day. My routine has also slowed these last few days.

I’ve virtually cleaned out my side of the classroom, although I’ll return one more day to do some last bit of cleaning, taking end of year inventory and packing up the old textbooks. There’s also the end of year faculty reception and graduation yet to attend. These final events will occur a little later in the week. I’m also making changes at home in my “studio” area as well.

Since I did all of my language lesson planning at home, most of my resources were here, so they are slowly being displaced by my art resources. So, basically, I’ve been cleaning and reorganizing over these last few days. It’s a slow process and I’m not in any hurry.

I also enjoy stopping periodically (with a cup of tea) to catch up on a little “J” TV like Tenchijin, Furusato or my daily asa dora (15 min. soap), Tsubasa.

Spinning a hammock

June 6, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Finally, it has begun. I knew it was imminent as a few (silkworms) have been exploring the paper tubes, crawling in circles along their edges and down inside of them. This one (pictured) is in the process of making a hammock from which its cocoon will attach.

June Silkies

June 4, 2009

June Silkies1

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

They say “A watched pot never boils.” and I wonder what the Japanese idiom for that is? It just occurred to me….something to research. Anyway, we all know it’s true and in this case, it does feel that way.

This morning I peeked on one of the boxes and one looked like it was beginning to spin. It was right up next to the toilet paper roll and there was a white “filament” coming out of its mouth. Needless to say, I was pretty excited about that, but it seems to have stopped. What’s the deal? Did it get distracted or…?? Anyway, the time is nearing and it has to be soon.

Silkies 2

May 30, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I’m paying close attention to these guys now. They do seem a bit more “slowed down” or is it my imagination? They still need to eat though and my bushes are getting depleted. I may have to start scouring the neighborhood for leaves if they don’t start spinning soon.

I read on one site that they turn yellow or yellowish when they’re getting ready for that, so that’s what I’m looking for (apart from their interest in climbing).

There are a number of good sites on raising silkworms. I mentioned Wormspit earlier. I recently found this one silk making and was intrigued with the pictures -a very different perspective!

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