RESULTS: Silkies/grated carrots test


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I wanted to report hat putting my tiny 1/4 inch silkworms on grated carrots was a success!! They are healthy and doing well munching on the grated carrots instead of the mulberry mash.
They are growing slowly(Now, 1 inch in length now since starting them on grated carrots 2 weeks ago. I also have half my silkies on mulberry mash as a comparison to see if there would be a substantial size or health differential and I am happy to report back there is no difference.
I think the slow growth is due to the fact that it's been pretty cool inside my house(around 71 degrees this past week). I noticed that the silkworms eat more whether it's the grated carrots or mulberry mash when my inside house temp is higher than 76 degrees so it's a function of inside house temp instead of the food that they are eating.
You will see orange color instead of black frasse(poop) but I use the frasse as fertilizer now that someone on this forum suggested it as an ideal natural fertilizer for my plants!!

I buy the grated carrots from Trader Joes because it is cheap and it comes in a convenient ziploc package. I suggest that if you do start off with very tiny silkies like I did, break the grated carrots into even smaller bits or puree it because silkies at that size have extremely small mouths and you want them to eat the food as easily as possible.

Right now, I am trying other types of food instead of grated carrots I'm putting some of my 1 inch silkies on minced up collard greens and I will post my results again on other types of non-mulberry silkie food.

Bottem line, you don't need to buy expensive mulberry mash and they can do well on grated carrots. However, if you are raising silkworms from eggs, I don't know if it's a wise idea to start off newly hatched silkies without initially starting them off with the mulberry mash. Hey, others who have newly hatched silkies can put some of them on a non-mulberry mash and report the results on this forum!!

Hope my test results helps all who have silkworms!!

This is a GREAT experiment!
I'm curious to know if silks raised on an alternative diet will
pupate normally and breed and lay viable eggs.
I guess we will see.....
This is terrible news for Coastal and Mulberry Farms! ;)

I found an article last night that was really interesting.. it discussed variations on chow recipes. Please keep us up to date on the carrot experiment, I am curious how it goes.

If anyone wants to browse the 113 page article that I found, it is at:

Here is the part about chow comparisons:

8.3 Artificial diets
Several variations of artificial media were prepared, using mulberry leaves as a base.

Trial 1.
The leaves were prepared by drying fresh leaves in a drying oven for three days and then crushing them to a powder. The ingredients used in all diets were:

A. Water 200ml
Mulberry leaves 60g
Canolini bean powder 36g
Brewer’s yeast 28g
Sucrose 24g
Cellulose powder 24g
Ascorbic acid 2.8g
Sorbic acid 0.66g
Nipagen (inhibitor) 0.66g
Pentavite 0.262ml

B. Water 400ml
Agar 18g Mix A + B and refrigerate.

When the artificial diet above was presented to silkworms of different developmental stages, it was observed that some larvae ate the diet and some did not. Larvae were observed twice a day until all worms died.

Trial 2.
The quantities of some of the ingredients were modified. For example the quantity of agar was halved because it was thought that the medium may have been too hard for the silkworms to eat. The second modification was to use fresh mulberry leaves instead of dry powdered leaves. More of this diet was eaten by silkworms but not all, and those that ate it did not reach the pupal stage.

Trial 3.
Other modifications tried were to (a) freeze dry the mulberry leaves before powdering them, and (b)to use the extract of boiled mulberry leaves. The diet using the latter extract was well accepted by silkworms. However, their growth was slow and some died before reaching the pupal stage.

Trial 4.
A methanol extract of fresh mulberry leaves was prepared. The methanol was evaporated overnight, the residue filtered and the filtrate was used in preparing the diet. Silkworms ate this diet well, grew well and developed to the pupal stage.
8.4 Conclusion
Artificial diets could be formulated for silkworms in Australia that were suitable for young worms through to the pupal stage.​
I too found the worms managed well on carrots in between orders of the mash...and when the cham chomps a big worm, it is carrot juice that squirts --- very dramatic! Worried that big worms full of that much carrot-colored juice might be packing too much of a VitA wallop, I now use carrots as a back-up only. I also tried collard greens..which the worms ate but...what an amazing stench! Don't know if their enzymes might convert it to something dreadful..but it was bad enough that I actully was concerned and those worms were put outside for the blue jays (who also refused them).
Thanks so much for keeping us posted...look forward to hearing more!
Interesting experiment. I would wait until you have observed all growth stages of the silkworm before declaring success with carrots. Carrots have preformed vitamin A, so I think you would want to be careful and offer those in moderation. I have used non-mulberry food before to help keep the silkworms happy until more mulberry food arrived. This seems to work when only used for a couple days; the worms eventually pupate and produce eggs. I have never tried to use non-mulberry food on a long term basis.

I was notified by more knowledgeable keepers that carrots do not contain preformed vitamin A, so please ignore the related comments above.
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Hi All, I Have used carrots in times past when I have ran out of silkworm food but do not recommend it as a stable diet. Given a choice Silkworms will go to mulberry leaves over carrots. I threw out a bunch of worms one year in the summer and found them to live for 2 weeks eating the grass in my yard. All in all Silkworm food is proven to be the most nutritious. Dry Silkworm food will last over a year kept in the refrigerator, and when purchased in a larger amount the price per pound goes down. It is funny to see them with orange heads when they eat the carrots.
Hi All, I Have used carrots in times past when I have ran out of silkworm food but do not recommend it as a stable diet. Given a choice Silkworms will go to mulberry leaves over carrots. I threw out a bunch of worms one year in the summer and found them to live for 2 weeks eating the grass in my yard. Ineresting, that. It is funny to see them with orange heads when they eat the carrots.
Now that made me laugh.
The squirting liquid, mentioned earlier did my stomach in though. lol
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yes i too have tried different things, the butter worms will eat squash and carrots, i think the silkies will also eat green peppers and squash.
as far as the preformed vit A, so i guess the carrots just contain vit A? which would be good for the cham's but in moderation, like everything else?
Carrots contain vitamin A as beta carotene. There is some controversy about whether or not chameleons can process beta carotene into vitamin A. There is a growing body of evidence saying that they can't.
My feedback. Thanks for all your input!!

Hi everybody!
The reason that I started this experiment on grated carrots vs mulberry mash was not for someone to think that I would endorse a carrot gut-load over the real thing!
My Chameleon started getting sick again 3 weeks ago on the baby silkworms that I fed him on my newly made batch of Mulberry mash?? I try to be as sanitary as possible handling both the mash and silkworms so I don't know why?? Anyway, that's why I thought of another alternative to using mulberry mash since I don't want to go thru trial and error with the mash again with my Chameleon and have him get an upset stomach and cease eating again. He's is just doing fine when he eats my silkworms that are being fed on grated carrots and exhibits no stomach problems. I would rather my Chameleon eat the silkworms with the grated carrots instead of totally eliminating silkworms in his diet.

Obviously, the mulberry mash is by far, the most superior nutrious food for both silkworms and Chameleons. If your Chameleon has been doing well on the silkworms eating the mulberry mash, continue with the food and only use the grated carrots if you are waiting to get more mulberry mash!

As someone brought up, perhaps dining on grated carrots may prohibit the silkworms from going thru their full life cycle by cucooning and developing into white moths!! Well, I'll let you know those results, too!!
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