Sericulture is the production of raw silk by raising silkworms. The main producers of silk are China and Japan. China is credited with the first production of silk around 3000BC. Production of silkworms relies on many environmental elements which affect the feasibility of silk production in other parts of the world.
Silk fibers are collected from cocoons of the silk worm which is the caterpillar stage of the silk moth Bombyx mori. The silk worms are treated to a luxurious life to produce their cocoons. Their environment is kept at controlled temperatures through their life cycles to insure they will live to produce a cocoon. The worm stage is fed crushed mulberry leaves around the clock, allowing it to multiply its weight 10,000 times within a month.
Each silkworm cocoon is made up of a single fiber that is 600 to 900 meters long. Five to eight strands of the filament that are unwound from a silk worm cocoon are used to create silk thread. The silk thread is then used to create silk fabric. Imagine how many silkworms were breed to produce one silk blouse!
Learn more about silk
- The History of Silk
- How Silk is Made
- Sericulture - Cultural Entomology - Insects in human culture
- Thai Silk
- The cycle of Silk Production - The Lao Sericulture Company
- Use of Silk In Ancient Egypt
Teaching Children about Silk
Raising silk worms may not be possible in your own back yard but Monarch butterflies follow a similar life cycle. Having participated in nurturing Monarchs for the past two years I highly recommend the experience to understand the process used to create silk.
More about Monarch Butterflies