Posting my silkworm experience

#1
So I’m trying my hand at raising silkworms. Figured I’d share my experience and photos along the way...

I ordered 250 eggs from @Spyro88 as well as 20 or so live silkies. The live silkies came with plenty of food to last a week, however, once the worms grew a bit I decided to break them into groups/new containers. I’m glad I did, as the food showed signs of mold developing after a week from shipdate. I figured splitting them into two containers would cut down on the risk of me killing them all!
CF3F2DBC-9295-4255-83B7-EF166BE5FDF9.jpeg

The eggs were glued to a small card and looked like small, matte grey pebbles. It sure doesn’t look like 250 until you start counting (I quit at 25)!! The anticipated hatch date was 3/23, however, the eggs didn’t hatch until 3/27 (with much anticipation). I believe this was due in part to a delivery delay thanks to USPS, coupled with cooler ambient room temps.

96C3A45F-459E-478C-8680-FD8C3EBD04F9.jpeg

Around the 23rd I decided that my house was probably a bit too cool (around 70-75 degrees). So i took a small keeper bin and slapped an extra small heat pad I had to it, and placed the eggs inside within another vented container. The thermastat usually shows between 77-80. Tonight, I finally had caterpillars!

F360108E-8330-4609-94CE-ECA3E66E680C.jpeg

In the picture you can see the empty eggs, which are white, and the eggs about to hatch are a blueish grey.

These guys hatched sometime during the 12 hrs I was at work. I am not sure how people “grate” their chow, as mine is soft, not hard. So I santized two clean knives with alcohol, dried them, and then used them to chop very small chunks of chow. Even then, I was worried about dropping the chunks and crushing the cats. I very carefully placed the chow around my babies and within a minute they started to swarm the chow.

(I make sure that I sanitize anything that touches the container or food, including my hands, tongs, knives, etc. Nothing goes near the container without being sterilized.)

My live silkworms grew quite a bit over the week! I placed the two groups into cheap leftover containers that I washed and wiped out with alcohol (and thoroughly dried). I santized scissors and poked holes in the top. Then I took gutter guard and cut a piece to fit, dropped it into some boiling water to santize before placing in the container. Then I placed a few small chunks of food around the container, making sure the cats weren’t crowding around one. Every night I spend about 5 minutes santizing my hands and utensils, then lift the gutter guard to shake out the poop, and replace the food. I’d rather do this nightly then to add too much food that spoils or gets poopy. They create a LOT of poop per day! Especially when they get bigger!

DA3204B1-4992-4F36-B048-807926E1C731.jpeg

Since I only had 10 or less worms per group, I didn’t need a big container, however, I will definitely need to size up for the next batch!

B273C9D1-00B5-458B-AD80-D2F2AA807655.jpeg 0624E9E7-4ABE-4914-92E6-984957E4BA6A.jpeg

Once I started to notice the pulsating vein down the cats backs, and they grew to around 2-3”, I moved them to the “spin bin.” Its hard to judge when they’re large enough... they grow so much! I moved some skinny 2.5” cats over, but they’ve continued to grow and fatten up over the last few days! They are easily the width of my pinky, and slightly longer.

FC93C4DA-3075-4326-9B32-429F0607D801.jpeg

I panicked and fed off a few small caterpillars that I thought might be weak or ill... in hindisght I suspect they were just molting and shedding their skin. I didn’t want to take a chance, with the silkworm paranoia of waking up to a dead colony! Maybe next time I’ll move them to a different bin for observation.

I will circle back with the babies growth and when my cats start to spin. So far this has been much easier than I expected. I just make sure they are kept at room temp (slightly warmer for the eggs), and spend 5 mins a day giving fresh food and emptying poop. Again, I’ve made sure that I keep a paper towel with rubbing alcohol nearby to wipe down anything that comes into contact with the caterpillars, their food, or the inside of their enclosure.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
#2
Very cool! I find that the food does spoil quickly if it is in contact with their poop and heat. I started giving mine enough for one day and each morning they get cleaned with new food added. I have not hatched any yet but I have had mine spin. I took the cocoons out of the toilet paper rolls and put them in a separate Tupperware container with vented lid. I just had my first 4 of 10 hatch and start mating and laying eggs.
 
#3
The babies that hatched on the 26th are now 5 days old. They’ve already had their first shed! I dont have much of a tech ique with them and am just winging it with their food. They are so small I can’t tell what food is dried out or what they are still feeding on, so i have just left it all in there and added new chunks nearby. Today I added netting and a little food on top to see if they’ll all crawl up to the new stuff. So far, so good! Some started crawling up to the new food immediately!

A451F3CC-503E-4BC4-A77D-33A8E51D9300.jpeg

I finally have one caterpillar starting to spin, too! Note to self: when they get huge, give them 5 more days!

91D70A30-E2E8-43D6-9AD1-D222848B3B53.jpeg

You can see in this pic the liquid that he released prior to spinning. I imagined it to be much more disgusting...

89662ED2-740C-4CD8-B7F1-12E703D78A5F.jpeg

Now Im faced with the dilemma of accumulating poop, but not wanting to disturb the guy spinning. Hopefully he spins quickly so I can dump the poop tonight. I think I’ll need a better solution for the future... maybe a false/screen bottom.
4E82CA7A-BFAF-452A-B9DB-9A8AB8FFAEFA.jpeg
 

snitz427

Avid Member
#4
What a difference a day makes! The babies are 6 days old and already significantly larger than yesterday. The netting technique is great - most transfered up but there are a few stragglers. I’ll wait another day before cleaning out the old food. I only put small pieces down at first, so hopefully it will have dried out.

3D40B545-D08A-4A03-A2F9-6D84446DF6AA.jpeg

Also have 1 coccoon and 2 starting to spin. Not sure what I’m going to do with the poop. I’m worried about disturbing the spinners... but that’s alot of poop generated in just 12 hrs!! Put paper towels down as the liquid they spewed made a mess rolling around the bottom.

81EB7D9E-4749-4537-9FFF-4EC455A9B4AF.jpeg
675077B4-D376-4C47-88E6-0019EF6EF642.jpeg

Who would have thought I’d be so excited about raising bugs... but we’ve got quite the growing bug nursery going!
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
#5
What a difference a day makes! The babies are 6 days old and already significantly larger than yesterday. The netting technique is great - most transfered up but there are a few stragglers. I’ll wait another day before cleaning out the old food. I only put small pieces down at first, so hopefully it will have dried out.

View attachment 227389

Also have 1 coccoon and 2 starting to spin. Not sure what I’m going to do with the poop. I’m worried about disturbing the spinners... but that’s alot of poop generated in just 12 hrs!! Put paper towels down as the liquid they spewed made a mess rolling around the bottom.

View attachment 227388
View attachment 227390

Who would have thought I’d be so excited about raising bugs... but we’ve got quite the growing bug nursery going!
Ok I really need to know what the netting is that your using. I am terrified about when I hatch mine out. I am months away from that but I need netting lol. I have had 7 of 10 moths hatch out so far. But only 1 came out on its own. The other 6 I had to cut out. It is pretty sad how they can not even get out on their own and that they can't even fly. I have 5 more that have just started to cocoon. I have decided I am going to use egg cartons to but the cocoons into and then I can write on each egg holder the date that they cocooned completely when I removed them from the tp rolls and put them in. This way I have a better idea of when they will emerge. This has been one heck of a learning curve lol
 

snitz427

Avid Member
#6
I bought some fruit / produce netting off amazon. It was a bundle of 100, I think, but I only used a 1/3rd of one for the babies. Its a bit too small to use the whole life cycle... but perfect for the youngn’s that are too fragile to move around.

It is really stretchy so bigger worms could probably get thru, but by then you could bump up to gutter guard or just pick them up.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
#7
I bought some fruit / produce netting off amazon. It was a bundle of 100, I think, but I only used a 1/3rd of one for the babies. Its a bit too small to use the whole life cycle... but perfect for the youngn’s that are too fragile to move around.

It is really stretchy so bigger worms could probably get thru, but by then you could bump up to gutter guard or just pick them up.
Thanks hun!
 

snitz427

Avid Member
#8
Babies are 8-9 days old. Netting works great. Tried to move a few stragglers with a paint brush and man - that sucks! So I put another net with a little food over them. I moved the majority to a clean container and put another net with new food on top. No paint brushes for me.

990B972C-1ECD-4B42-8661-44BE92CB21FF.jpeg

Several of my older caterpillars are spinnging - however - a few decided to spin on the top corner of the enclosure... so now I have to wait until they finish to replenish food for the few that havent spun. The spinning, by the way, seems to take 1-2 days for my guys. I don’t know why, but I expected it to be a quicker process to make the coccoon.
 

snitz427

Avid Member
#9
In hindsight I’d probably be better off with the perfect strips of food so that they can spread out more... but its already a lot of waste. It is hard to get the strips thin enough, and then I feel there will be even more wasted.
 
#11
I bought some fruit / produce netting off amazon. It was a bundle of 100, I think, but I only used a 1/3rd of one for the babies. Its a bit too small to use the whole life cycle... but perfect for the youngn’s that are too fragile to move around.

It is really stretchy so bigger worms could probably get thru, but by then you could bump up to gutter guard or just pick them up.
Hi, is this the netting you bought?

https://www.amazon.com/Sajid-Store-...duce+netting&qid=1554391270&s=gateway&sr=8-12

thanks for all the info, I'm going to be trying this soon as well.
 
#13
yep! You can cut the net up and reuse it to get more use out of it. Its much easier than trying to move them with a brush.

I wash the net with soap and water before hand and just stretch and shake it around a minute before use.
 
#15
Day 11 since hatching and the silkies are steadily growing. Not much by way of food changes. They are still working on food that is 2.5 days old. Some are even still eating the dried up week old chow from the 1st net. I’ll check again tomorrow.

80DB7A3B-4164-46E8-AE92-78401746E785.jpeg
3439281C-F546-4334-8830-3A02704F7C24.jpeg

I left the stragglers in a seperate bin so that I have two seperate groups, in case one fails.

93ACB48D-F07E-4143-B855-832F68C90827.jpeg

The spinning bin got funky in a hurry! I was afraid to empty the poop and disturb the spinners, which resulted in several days of poop and the development of mold. Since I have guys (unsuccessfuly) trying to spin on the lid, I just went for it and moved them all to a new bin. If they dont cocoon I’ll still wait to see if they pupate outside a cocoon.

6C520DE1-8509-4129-9333-68A6C01C4D63.jpeg

I moved the cocoons to a bin with papertowel. One poor guy had a very thin cocoon so I moved his roll over.

82178518-ACCC-4F8A-9FE0-764CCD4A5C6E.jpeg
5939186A-986F-44B5-A4D2-71B9AA8C4C81.jpeg

I wish the other 5 would hurry up so they emerge around the same time!

34CDC6D7-8854-4D33-9EFF-14BEEAAF82F8.jpeg

Went to a reptile show and spent a fortune on plants and isopods. Now we are trying isopod cultures too! I picked up some springtails, dwarf white, powder orange, and dairy cow isopods. I REALLY wanted to try clowns, too, but I felt silly spending so much on “potato bugs.” The powder orange isopods are very active! We threw a dead cricket in and they moved in like a pack of wolves!
 
#16
The babies will be 3 weeks old tomorrow. I hope they will be large enough to feed in a few more days.

The netting has worked well and i have bumped up to gutterguard due to their growth. The only issue is that, while most caterpillars will climb up to new food, there are still stragglers. So I have to move the old food over or pick them off 1 by 1 (no fun)!

The older cats have all spun, I hope to have moths this week.

389DF241-1F5F-4B1D-B904-78B22D92F9A1.jpeg
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
#17
The babies will be 3 weeks old tomorrow. I hope they will be large enough to feed in a few more days.

The netting has worked well and i have bumped up to gutterguard due to their growth. The only issue is that, while most caterpillars will climb up to new food, there are still stragglers. So I have to move the old food over or pick them off 1 by 1 (no fun)!

The older cats have all spun, I hope to have moths this week.

View attachment 229203
So hun at 3 weeks how long are they now? Seems like a lot of time and food to grow them.
 
#18
So hun at 3 weeks how long are they now? Seems like a lot of time and food to grow them.
I’d say they are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. This is around the age/size where they will start to grow very quickly. I’m expecting them to double in size over the next few days and be ready to start feeding off.

They haven’t gone through too much food yet. Maybe 1/8th of a pound of dry chow. I probably could have been more conservative and waited 3-4 days between food changes, as they are still happily eating older/drying food... but then I risk mold growth. So I change the food every 2-3 days.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
#19
I’d say they are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. This is around the age/size where they will start to grow very quickly. I’m expecting them to double in size over the next few days and be ready to start feeding off.

They haven’t gone through too much food yet. Maybe 1/8th of a pound of dry chow. I probably could have been more conservative and waited 3-4 days between food changes, as they are still happily eating older/drying food... but then I risk mold growth. So I change the food every 2-3 days.
I wish they grew slower at the end ya know. LOL it is a battle trying to feed them off before they turn into little chunky guys that want to spin.
Very interesting though. Thank you for sharing. I think 3 of my cocoons didn't make it. They still have not hatched out and no sign of it happening either.
 
Top Bottom