Have you ever tried to breed your own silkworms? After raising the two butterflies from the chrysalis stage, we decided to try raising silkworms. This was a lot harder and more work, especially making sure they were always fed. I also created a silkworm unit and a silkworm printable pack for preschoolers and kindergarteners that can be used to learn about silkworms or to go alongside raising silkworms.
- Books about silkworms
This silkworm unit contains 78-pages and is aimed at children in grades one through four. It requires research to answer the questions.
This pack includes:
- silkworm eggs worksheet
- silkworm worksheet
- silkworm and moth observations pages
- silkworm worksheets
- silkworm anatomy worksheet
- silkworm life cycle flashcards and posters
- silk work sheets
- silkworm graphing
- silkworm life cycle book
- word search
- sikworm dictionary
as well as answer pages
To download you copy, click the link below:
There is also a printable pack for preschoolers and kndergarteners. Click on the link below to download it:
To start raising your own silkworms, you need silkworm eggs as well as mulberry leaves or silkworm chow as well as an enclosure to keep them in. I ordered around 100 silkworm ends. When they arrived there were a mixture of white (infertile) and black (fertile) eggs on a piece of cardboard.
We placed these eggs into our enclosure and waited for them to start hatching.
It took around 7 to 20 days for these eggs to start hatching. Once they hatched, they just ate and ate and ate. This meant that they also grew very, very quickly.
We cleaned out their ‘house’ everyday and fed them three times a day. This is why we went onto the chow, as we were finding it hard to keep up with the leaves.
Below is a picture of a silkworm eating. The boys found out that if you were quiet and put your ear close to them, you could hear them munching on the leaf. It sounded like soft rain! This was very fascinating to hear, especially when there was lots of these little creatures all munching together.
The silkworms kept eating and growing, so we decided to try and measure them. They didn’t like to sit still very long, so it was a little hard to measure them. This was the size of a majority of the silkworms ~ 5 cm long.
Silkworms shed their skin 4 times during their lives. We didn’t see much of this happening, though we did find the shed skins in the enclosure when we were cleaning it out. We were able to capture this silkworm below shedding its skin, though the quality of the picture isn’t that great as it was sitting inside a toilet roll.
Once they had shed and reached around 4 to 6.5 cm long, they were ready to start spinning their cocoons. We placed the toilet rolls into the enclosure as we had been told that this would give them something to build their cocoons in.
We cut out toilet rolls in half to make them a little smaller and give us more ‘houses’ for the silkworms to build their cocoons in.
See the dirty patch at the front of the toilet roll in the photo on the above? The silkworms empty themselves before building their cocoons.
What was really surprising to the boys was that the silkworms don’t eat again once they start their cocoons, as the white moths don’t eat, drink or fly.
This silkworm decided he preferred to build his cocoon in a leaf instead of a toilet roll. This was our first complete cocoon and the first moth to hatch.
Some of our silkworms built their cocoons on top of each other. With many of the toilet rolls having 2-4 cocoons in them!
Pretty soon we had tons of cocoons or silkworms spinning cocoons. This was when the feeding slowed down to almost nothing, which also helped slow down the cleaning of the enclosure.
After a few weeks, the cocoons started hatching and the moths starting to emerge. This was the first time we had seen a white moth.
When they first emerge, they sit on their cocoon and unwrinkled their wings and get the blood flowing.
Then they mate for up to 24 hours.
This is followed by the female laying her eggs. Though these white moths looked really soft and furry, the poor creatures only last a few days before they die. This gives them just enough time to mate and lay the eggs.
At first the eggs are a lemon-yellow colour. At this time, you can store them in the fridge and then take them out when again when you want them to hatch. We let a few hatch just so we could see the whole process again.
Have you ever tried to raise silkworms?
A great link that goes into lots of details about the lifecycle of silkworms can be found here.
Learn all about the silk road here
A great site about the silk the silkworms spin: Here
Great activities and information about silkworms can be found here.
A great website with loads of information and activities about silkworms: click here.
A post about silkworms: here
For some silkworm facts look here.
A great page for kids all about silkworms: here
A fact sheet about silkworms: here
More about silkworms: here