Silkworm – Life Cycle of Silkworm


The larva stage of a silk moth’s life cycle is a silkworm. The silk moths lay eggs that later develop into silkworm larvae, caterpillar or grub. They eat for a period of 20 to 30 days.

They consume a large number of mulberry leaves; therefore then they melt through 4 changes of instars. Silkworms are very nutritious live feeders for reptile lizards and semi-aquatic animals as well.

Silkworm Moth

Silkworm moth that is also known as “bombyx Mori” comes in use for the production of silk. It is there for thousands of years in the production of silk. It is popular all around the world.

An adult silkworm might have a wingspan of 45 to 50 mm that is near about 2 inches. It has a thick and bristly body. Here, the adult female is larger as than the adult male. It is typically blond to light brown colour.

It has thin dark bands that run across the body. Its Wings are dark of cream colour and there are dark veins that extend out to the margins. In adults, the mouthparts are absent or sometimes reduced.


They don’t eat in their adulthood of 2 or 3 days and they also can not fly as well. However males perform flutter dance, females induce a mating ritual i.e. secretion of a pheromone called bombykol.

In this process, the females lay near about 300 to 500 eggs, which hatch in one or two weeks of time. When kept at a temperature of 24 to 29° Centigrade.

The newly hatched larvae are about 2 to 3 mm long and have voracious appetites. Besides the natural mulberry leaves, they also eat the foliage of the lettuce or the Osage orange.

The pale larvae have a caudal horn. It acquires a maximum length of 75 mm that is near about 3 inches, during a growing period of 45 days.

The pupation process occurs inside the cocoon and this cocoon is made up of continuous yellow or white strands of silk of an average about 915 meters which is equal to 1000 yards long.

The Lifecycle of a Silkworm

A silkworm’s total life cycle has a range of 7-8 weeks. If the weather is warmer than the completion of the lifecycle of the silkworm will be faster. However, many other factors are also very important such as exposure to sunlight and humidity as well.

On the other hand, the silkworm experiences 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness every day, a temperature of about 23-28 degrees Celsius, as well as humidity at a level of 80-90 per cent.

Under these conditions, the eggs should hatch in a time period of about 7-10 days. However, without an incubator, it is very hard to achieve these conditions, and it is a usual practice to just make it with the weather we live in.

Uses of Silkworm

There are various uses of silkworm:

Scientific study

In the pheromones, physiology, hormones and brain structure the scientists use silkworms. They also use it in the study of genetics and the engineering of genetics.

Some of these studies focus on producing silkworms that can feed on other substances rather than the mulberry leaves.

Food and medicines

In some cultures the silkworm pupae are edible. Koreans prepare a snack food from the pupae, by boiling them in the water and after boiling they season at the last.

Chinese street vendors roast the pupae. They also use the dried body of the silkworm for producing medicines.

Solved question for You

Ques. Mulberry silkworm is:

(A). Antheraea mylitta
(B). Bombyx mori
(C). Anthraea assamensis
(D). Attacus atlas

Ans. (B). Bombyx Mori.

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