Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Seven silkworms spinning

I'm reading: Seven silkworms spinningTweet this!

Actually, there are 27, or possibly 37, silkworm larvae busily spinning away upstairs.

Much to my relief, they turned out just as they were supposed to. Let's hope this is an omen of things to come with my children.

I feared the caterpillars were just going to keep eating, growing (and pooping) without reaching maturity. It's not unlike that feeling one gets after a few exhausted weeks of caring for a newborn. But, phew, now I can relax. In fact, the silkworms will never eat again. Ever.

The adult moths that emerge from the cocoons do not eat or drink. They live only to mate. I have one select group of 8 or so cocoons that I plan to let live out their natural life cycle. Hopefully there will be a mating pair among them which may leave us with perhaps hundreds of eggs.

I've already found homes for some of these eggs. And hey, I thought I was too old to be an egg donor! Don't some women make good money for this kind of thing? The eggs can stay for a year or more in the refrigerator in a dormant state which kinda gives me a new angle on the frozen embryo debate.

Anyhoo, the little buggers spin for three days--almost a mile of thread. It's amazing to watch. Beautiful. It almost brings a tear to my eye (as do Hallmark commercials since I became a mother).

Here's Pumpkin spinning his cocoon (just kidding we did not name them. It's generally a bad idea to name animals that one intends to "harvest"). I'd say he or she was about 6-8 hours into the process. The shiny reflection in the upper left corner comes from plastic wrap. In their early lives the caterpillars generally never moved more than a few inches on any given day, but they apparently get a bit bolder and more active as they look for a suitable place to hunker down, and this wild guy decided to hang from his ceiling. Still, that's a better choice than the one that attached itself to our wall.

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