Processing of silk

Silk is a luxurious animal fibre produced by silk moths.

Silk moths go through an interesting life cycle before they finally give us silk threads.

To meet the growing demands of this luxury fibre, silk moths are nurtured.

The process of nurturing of moths is called rearing.

It begins with the female silk moths laying eggs. They lay 100 of them at a time.

The eggs are kept in hygienic and suitable conditions for them to hatch into small caterpillars or larvae.

These larvae are also called silkworms.

After the silkworms hatch, they are moved to clean bamboo trays.

The silkworms are fed day and night so that they grow in size.

If we are rearing Mulberry silk moths, then they are made to feed on mulberry leaves.

Once they grow fully, they enter into their next stage of life called Pupa.

In the pupa stage, they start twitching and swinging their heads around.

When they swing their heads, they secrete a fibre in the pattern of the number 8.

The fibres are made of a protein that hardens when exposed to air.

Soon, they spin a wall around them with the fibres. This wall is called a cocoon.

Further development of the moth takes place inside the cocoon.

Once the cocoons are spun, they are collected by the farmers.

The farmers then expose the cocoons to steam or keep them under the sun.

The silk fibres then loosen and separate out. This process of taking out threads from the cocoon is called reeling.

On a larger scale, reeling is done in machines where the silk fibres are detached from the cocoon.

The silk fibres in turn are spun into silk threads. The threads are finally weaved to make fabrics.

The fabrics obtained are very shiny.

Revision

Silk is a fine, lustrous protein fibre produced from silkworm.

The process of silk making is complex and it starts when silkworms lay their eggs.

The silkworms are kept in a controlled environment and fed huge amounts of mulberry leaves.

The pupa spins a fibre around it to form a hard covering called cocoon.

Silk fibres are obtained from cocoons by a process called reeling.

The end