Silkworms dying off

cham_urchin

Established Member
Anybody know why my silks (about 1-1.5" long today) are dying off, in 2s and 3s each day? I'm keeping them clean, changing out food and removing frass daily. Didn't have any problems last time. I know they are sensitive and need sanitized conditions...seems odd how they are dying off slowly and a couple at a time....?
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
I have 2 silk worm rules

#1 all fingers/utensils get dunked in starsan before touching silkies
#2 uneaten silkies are not returned to the bin

I also never clean the silk worm tub till after the batch is fed off. I just put layer upon layer of leaves, and they just crawl up.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
if they were raised on leaves and your feeding chow they don't seem to like eating the chow. I had this problem and started getting die offs with the stubborn ones that refused the chow. :(
 

snitz427

Chameleon Enthusiast
what are you feeding them? Are they normals or another variety? I don't want to jinx myself, but I could count on one hand the number of deaths I've had in probably 2,000 hatchlings. My guess would be either an issue with food, mold, or illness... and all three of those things go hand in hand. They have no real immunity so mold and bacteria can set in and make them sick very quickly.

I've had good success with keeping them in an open container, with enough space that they don't need to crawl all over each other... only a little food provided each day, just enough to either be eaten, or completely dry up by the next feeding. That also lets the frass fall to the bottom and dry out... keeping the risk of mold and bacteria to a minimum. As others have said, once you remove them from the bin, don't put them back in it. I'm not as fanatical about disinfecting every single thing that comes into contact with the silks, but I do wash my hands and keep their food as clean as I can.
 

cham_urchin

Established Member
I have 2 silk worm rules

#1 all fingers/utensils get dunked in starsan before touching silkies
#2 uneaten silkies are not returned to the bin

I also never clean the silk worm tub till after the batch is fed off. I just put layer upon layer of leaves, and they just crawl up.
#1 - I'm doin soap & water...worked last time, but maybe my luck ran out.
#2 - haven't fed any off...was trying to breed them.

I did clean the tub after each discovery of darkened, sometimes writhing worms that had dropped/crawled thru the mesh to the bottom...which was kinda Gooey. I'm feeding chow, not leaves.

Thanks for your input!
 

cham_urchin

Established Member
That is strange. What's your humidity? I had one die yesterday but I noticed my humidity in bin was too high so I cracked the lid. I try to balance between not so dry that the food dries out too fast and not so humid that they start dying off.
Yeah its weird, they start writhing around, drop thru the mesh to the bottom, darken and eventually die. Humidity is low since my bin top is screened and its Colorado...food does dry out overnight so I replace.
 

cham_urchin

Established Member
if they were raised on leaves and your feeding chow they don't seem to like eating the chow. I had this problem and started getting die offs with the stubborn ones that refused the chow. :(
Hmm. I wonder. Got them from Rainbow. Last batch did fine. I didn't notice any refusing the chow...I did notice they start writhing around and looking sick...dead ones the next morning.
 

cham_urchin

Established Member
what are you feeding them? Are they normals or another variety? I don't want to jinx myself, but I could count on one hand the number of deaths I've had in probably 2,000 hatchlings. My guess would be either an issue with food, mold, or illness... and all three of those things go hand in hand. They have no real immunity so mold and bacteria can set in and make them sick very quickly.

I've had good success with keeping them in an open container, with enough space that they don't need to crawl all over each other... only a little food provided each day, just enough to either be eaten, or completely dry up by the next feeding. That also lets the frass fall to the bottom and dry out... keeping the risk of mold and bacteria to a minimum. As others have said, once you remove them from the bin, don't put them back in it. I'm not as fanatical about disinfecting every single thing that comes into contact with the silks, but I do wash my hands and keep their food as clean as I can.
Feeding chow. They look to be normals (advertised as no specific type)... I only got 20 so they aren't at all crowded. Have them in a plastic lettuce bin (recycled) with gutterguard. The chow was freshly prepared and kept in fridg. I do wash all utensils and my hands carefully beforehand. And I haven't fed any off. Only have 4 left!

I wonder if they came with the problem? Or, have I introduced bacteria somehow.
OR - did the (organic) lettuce bin have traces of pesticides I didn't completely wash away? But then you'd expect all of them to croak at once...
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
#1 - I'm doin soap & water...worked last time, but maybe my luck ran out.
#2 - haven't fed any off...was trying to breed them.

I did clean the tub after each discovery of darkened, sometimes writhing worms that had dropped/crawled thru the mesh to the bottom...which was kinda Gooey. I'm feeding chow, not leaves.

Thanks for your input!

chow = lower immune system vs leaves

soap = clean, not sanitized, even if its "antimicrobial"

I would highly suggest you get some starsan or other "no rinse" sanitizer. Even 4 oz would be a 10 year supply since once mixed, it never goes bad, so a gallon might last months as a finger bowl. Put the stuff in a spray bottle, hose down your tub, let it dry, and you have a layer of protection that will last for weeks. And its perfectly fine to eat off of it.
 
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cham_urchin

Established Member
chow = lower immune system vs leaves

soap = clean, not sanitized, even if its "antimicrobial"

I would highly suggest you get some starsan or other "no rinse" sanitizer. Even 4 oz would be a 10 year supply since once mixed, it never goes bad, so a gallon might last months as a finger bowl.
Will do. On the topic....do I recall reading that I can also run Starsan thru my mister tubing to disinfect?
I can't get mulberry leaves in Colorado (that I am aware of) which is too bad. I'd rather feed leaves. Do you harvest your own?
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Will do. On the topic....do I recall reading that I can also run Starsan thru my mister tubing to disinfect?
I can't get mulberry leaves in Colorado (that I am aware of) which is too bad. I'd rather feed leaves. Do you harvest your own?

You can run it through the misting tubes but i would run normal water afterwards. Some formula are "high suds" so you may end up with a foam party till the lines are cleared out.

Yea i have huge tree at work.

I do get in trouble at work, because i have a basket of "bugs", but i keep them in the air compressor room, and no one hangs out there. I just have to hide them during big wig site inspections.
 
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