Silky smooth operator


Oh, you guys are smart!  Remember yesterday’s mystery?

Well, lots of you guessed correctly.  It’s a silk worm cocoon.  Or Bombyx Mori if you speak Latin.

It’s common here for school kids to keep a shoebox full of silk worms.  Why not?  It’s like an aquarium, but more creepy-crawly.  Silk worms live on white mulberry leaves, which happen to grow in our neighbourhood.

They start as an egg and take two weeks to become this.

Silk worms are busy creatures.  The larvae eat continuously, molt four times, then turn to the pupa life.  That’s like caterpillar menopause.  Then have a hot flash and head for a corner.

This is where things get mind-boggling.  In just two days they construct the cocoon out of a single silk thread, between 300 and 900 meters long.  Imagine salivating out half a kilometer of thread in two days.  And I think I’m busy.

The cocoons are white, yellow, or even a soft pink color.  Soon, these guys will pop a hole in the cocoon and emerge as moths.  They lay eggs and the process starts all over again.

The idea of creating silk out of saliva seems so awesomely bizarre that I raise my glass of wine (a perky little Rioja) to the wonderous creativity of nature.

And the wonderous creativity of man.  In Chinese traditional medicine they use dried 4th stage silkworm larvae which have died of a specific disease to dispel flatulence.

Río could use some of that.

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4 comments

  1. I think that is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever sort of knew about but never seen. Very neat!! I’m jealous of Mr. Yago, I want silk worms!!

  2. Thankyou, Thankyou , Thankyou – I will show this to my family in the UK to remind them that the teachers at my daughter’s school are not totally insane in sending everybody home with a showbox of Silkworms ! – I just never realised that it was something common in other parts of Spain aswell.

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