Silkworm Best Practices (chow)

deadhd5

Avid Member
I wanted to start this thread in order to get a set of best practices for raising silkworms from eggs with the goal being to minimize die-off and workload. If we could keep the focus on feeding with chow, it would be helpful entering the cold season.

Any thoughts on containers and balancing temperature/humidity would be great.
 

deadhd5

Avid Member
The container that I am currently utilizing is a large "pod" set up made from coolwhip bowls with plastic mesh secured inside. I put the recently cooked wet chow at the top (so they eat food above them and poop falls to the floor) and rubberband a paper towel for the floor. I keep it in my cham room, so ambient temps are mid 65-75

The problem I encounter is the chow drying up before the silkies are done growing. Also, regardless of what I do, I experience a large dieoff, silkworms turning into dark mush.
 

Lathelia

Established Member
I had a lot dieoff recently :( They looked like they had diarrhea and some kind of liquid "flowing" out of their mouth. I'm wondering if it happened beacuse of lower temperature in the house?
 

pssh

Avid Member
When starting wih eggs, i prefer to make my chow and put it into icing piping bags so when I squeeze it out it comes out in very small lines. After they dry I put more on top of them and it sort of becomes a silkworm "playground." I dont transfer them or remove frass until they are are at least 2nd instar. I find touching them/moving them/removing frass makes the die off higher if its before the 2nd instar. After that I use suspended Plastic mesh with food on it so the frass falls below.
 

deadhd5

Avid Member
I had a lot dieoff recently :( They looked like they had diarrhea and some kind of liquid "flowing" out of their mouth. I'm wondering if it happened beacuse of lower temperature in the house?
This is what my dieoff has looked like recently. Sounds something like flacherie:

Bacteria and viruses cause the disease individually or in
combination. Fluctuating temperature and humidity and poor
quality mulberry predispose the disease development.
1. The diseased larvae will be stunted in growth, dill
lethargic soft and appear flaccid
2. The cephalothoracic region may be translucent
3. The larvae vomit gut juice, develop dysentery and
excrete chain type fecus.
4. The larvae on death putrefy, develop different and emit
foul smell.

If anyone has any hygene tips, it may help here. I wash my hands / use purell always before touching my silkworms, and disinfect the containers with bleach between uses, but I still see these diseases (flacherie, grasserie, thatte).
 

Lathelia

Established Member
This is what my dieoff has looked like recently. Sounds something like flacherie:

Bacteria and viruses cause the disease individually or in
combination. Fluctuating temperature and humidity and poor
quality mulberry predispose the disease development.
1. The diseased larvae will be stunted in growth, dill
lethargic soft and appear flaccid
2. The cephalothoracic region may be translucent
3. The larvae vomit gut juice, develop dysentery and
excrete chain type fecus.
4. The larvae on death putrefy, develop different and emit
foul smell.

If anyone has any hygene tips, it may help here. I wash my hands / use purell always before touching my silkworms, and disinfect the containers with bleach between uses, but I still see these diseases (flacherie, grasserie, thatte).
Thanks. I made a new batch of chow, cause I thought maybe the last one got "infected" in the fridge. I always clean my hands and everything that comes in contact with silkworms. I don't have any other ideas what could have caused them to die.

EDIT: I think my problem was fluctuation of temperature and humidity:
http://my.opera.com/PROFARMS/blog/silkworm-diseases-flacherie
 
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pssh

Avid Member
Thats one of the reasons why I like piping bags. Once you tie them off, they dont need to be opened again. And the tip that is open dries out a little between uses so you have to push a tiny bit out which means any bacteria on it isnt used anyways. I have a much smaller die off this way.
 

pigglett79

Avid Member
I start eggs out in Petri dishes and mist them lightly away from the eggs. I place the Petri dishes under a heat lamp w a regular house bulb. I grow them in the dish until they are around the second instar then move to Tupperware containers that have the lids cut out and screen hot glued to them. I use screen in the bottom to separate them from their frass. I use chow from mulberry farms and make it in the microwave. I wash the containers in the dish washer and don't do any other disinfecting. I wash my hands before touching them or the food, but that's all I do. I haven't had any issues with disease. I breed them and have several generations without issue.
 

maxttu

New Member
I start eggs out in Petri dishes and mist them lightly away from the eggs. I place the Petri dishes under a heat lamp w a regular house bulb. I grow them in the dish until they are around the second instar then move to Tupperware containers that have the lids cut out and screen hot glued to them. I use screen in the bottom to separate them from their frass. I use chow from mulberry farms and make it in the microwave. I wash the containers in the dish washer and don't do any other disinfecting. I wash my hands before touching them or the food, but that's all I do. I haven't had any issues with disease. I breed them and have several generations without issue.
I can vouch for this. Rachelle's silkies are legit.
 

deadhd5

Avid Member
Thanks for all the feedback, I now have a new strategy for when my next round of eggs arrive!

Two follow up questions:

1.) How do you identify the second instar (when they become less vulnerable to handling)?

2.) Any tips on where I can find a good mesh to use for the tupperware container floor?
 

pigglett79

Avid Member
The second instar is after the second molt. It is usually after 7-10 days. I use the regular aluminum window screen from Home Depot.
 

Lathelia

Established Member
Thanks for all the feedback, I now have a new strategy for when my next round of eggs arrive!

Two follow up questions:

1.) How do you identify the second instar (when they become less vulnerable to handling)?

2.) Any tips on where I can find a good mesh to use for the tupperware container floor?
I'm not really experienced with silkworms, but I think on the second instar their "mouth" (I have no idea how is it called ;)) bacomes brownish instead of black.
 
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