Way too many silk worms!!!

PhunkeyPhish

New Member
I am trying my hand at keeping a silk worm colony going. From everything I read I anticipated a lot of failure and so I started with 500 eggs. Well, I was a little too successful and 1) I waited too long to start feeding them thinking I wouldn't have enough for a breeding colony and 2) my toads (I have two toads, no chams) aren't keeping up and 3) its been 3-4 weeks now and they haven't started to cocoon yet. I am beginning to exhaust my food supply for the worms as they are going through a 1/2 pound of dry food (I reconstitute it and cook it before feeding) like every 3 days!!! In the future I am going to hatch less and start feeding them earlier, but is there anyway to force these things to cocoon? I have added eggs crates and empty toilet paper things to all 3 bins, not just the breeders. Help!!!

Thanks,
pp
 

BECHARD4

Established Member
Not that I know of. The worms will eat and eat, until they are ready to cocoon. We go through lots of food. Once they are bigger, they can go a day or so without eating. So don’t think you need to have food every day. Do you have access to mulberry leaves, they eat that too, if your chow is getting low?
Hopefully you will be able to cocoon a few of them and breed the moths to have eggs for the next year.
 

PhunkeyPhish

New Member
Thanks for the reply. That is good to know that I don't have to feed them every day. I have 1 1/2 pound bag of powder chow left and am thinking that I might have to just feed my breeders as bad as that sounds and how terrible I feel about that. I don't have any mull berry trees near me that I know of and I am in Ohio so trees are just now starting to get their leaves anyhow. I hope I get a few moths as I plan to now only hatch about 50 eggs at a time from now on! Anything else they would eat? I am experimenting tonight with the non breeders by mixing some mull berry chow with some of my worm chow (I keep night crawlers) and some gut loader.
 

BECHARD4

Established Member
I don’t think they eat anything else, at least not that we have tried. We have been breeding them for a few years now. How big are the worms, as long as your middle finger?
 

PhunkeyPhish

New Member
No I don't think they are that big. Is that about how big they get prior to cocooning!? Thus far I have really enjoyed raising them and think it will be even easier with fewer hatching eggs in the future. My toads like them and they seem to get fuller faster compared to eating the earth worms. Am I correct that one moth will produce many many eggs?
 

BECHARD4

Established Member
Approximately that size. Yes one female will produce lots of eggs. Once they turn into moths, they live less than a week. Breeding and laying eggs is all they do.
We usually do one big breeding event every year, about 100 moths and we get enough eggs to last a year.
These babies just hatched a few days ago.
 

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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
So they need to get to the 2-3 inch mark. Their body goes more translucent and you can see a vein running up the center of their back that pulses. This is the point where they will start to cocoon.... Prior to that it is a no go. They are eating machines until this point. Once they hit this point you can pull food and put in toilet paper rolls.

One moth can produce 250-300 eggs. The eggs are a grey color when fertilized and are a white creamy color when they are not fertile.
 

PhunkeyPhish

New Member
Awesome. Thanks for the information! I think my largest ones are probably less than a week away from being ready to cocoon. Seems like I will have plenty of eggs to last me before needing to breed them again!
 

PhunkeyPhish

New Member
Also, sorry I am not a real chameleon keeper. I find your site to be very nice and active and feeders are feeders. I used to chameleon-sit for a friend and hope one day to have a chameleon of my own, until then it's just my toads.
 

JIFFYPOP

Avid Member
PhunkeyPhish, sounds like you have a problem... you are too good at what you try to do lol. Could send me some, j/k
 
You can sell the extra worms! There must be someone locally that would want to buy some. Also, depending on where you live, you might have some mulberry trees around with fresh little leaves coming out. If you can find some the silkworms would gladly rather eat thes than the chow! If you keep all the worms and end up with a gazillion eggs people will buy them from you!
 

Spyro

Avid Member
Site Sponsor
I am trying my hand at keeping a silk worm colony going. From everything I read I anticipated a lot of failure and so I started with 500 eggs. Well, I was a little too successful and 1) I waited too long to start feeding them thinking I wouldn't have enough for a breeding colony and 2) my toads (I have two toads, no chams) aren't keeping up and 3) its been 3-4 weeks now and they haven't started to cocoon yet. I am beginning to exhaust my food supply for the worms as they are going through a 1/2 pound of dry food (I reconstitute it and cook it before feeding) like every 3 days!!! In the future I am going to hatch less and start feeding them earlier, but is there anyway to force these things to cocoon? I have added eggs crates and empty toilet paper things to all 3 bins, not just the breeders. Help!!!

Thanks,
pp
We go through about 20lbs of dry chow a week. You can stretch the food a bit by increasing the water content. However, the frass will end up more wet, so keep everything as dry as possible after they poop.

You can pull the food a little early and force them to spin & pupate early, but we've seen much poorer mortality rates by doing that.
 

JIFFYPOP

Avid Member
Matt has a good idea. If you have too many silk worms advertise them on a couple reptile classifieds, someone should scoop them up. Silk worms seem to hard to find in Canada, that’s why we breed our own.
BECHARD4 is right, they are difficult to find in my area
 
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