Serving the Tiny Masters
February 20, 2008 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Michael Cook likes to play with wormspit. And to share his interest in sericulture he's created a site devoted to the raising of silkworms, including the Cecropia, North America's largest moth. Not to be confused with the Hawk Moth, another very large moth, Cecropias are members of the Saturniinae family. Saturniid adults have vestigial mouth parts and no digestive system so they usually live no more than a week. So perhaps it’s best to get down to business right out of the cocoon. (SFW Moth Porn)

A comprehensive index of pictures of Saturniidaes can be found here.
posted by Toekneesan (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
They are the world's only truly domesticated insect, having been bred and selected for thousands of years, mainly for quality of silk (color, strength, volume) but also for ease of rearing.


For the first couple of days, they require only the tenderest tip leaves of the branch. ... These leaves need replacing about three times a day, mainly because they are tender and dry out easily. The worms receive all their fluids from the leaves they eat. The leaves must be fresh and clean and unwilted, but not damp.

Just who is domesticating whom here?

Great link, very interesting.
posted by DU at 7:09 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

While you're there, check out his silk reeling process, in which he searches pupa soup for The One True Thread. Awesome link, Toekneesan.
posted by ourobouros at 7:37 AM on February 20, 2008

Great post! I will have to show the wormspit site to my mother who is involved in a fiber arts group.
posted by TedW at 7:43 AM on February 20, 2008

Yay! I've been following wormspit for a few years -- glad to see it's made it to the Blue.
posted by kalimac at 8:10 AM on February 20, 2008

Hee! My former apprentice in the SCA is a silkworker by passion, and started a discussion list for silkwork hobbyists. IIRC, Michael is the member who quickly became the Major Expert on the list - ever useful, and attempting serious experiments with 'worms that everyone else was content to merely muse about.

Emmelyne only handles the spit post-worm - no bug-boiling for her - so he & she focused on separate portions of the process, really.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:07 PM on February 20, 2008

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