silk butterfly

Article

May 17, 2022

The silkworm or silkworm (Bombyx mori) is a moth of the family of true spinners (Bombycidae). It is one of the best known and most cultivated insects in the world. The butterfly is mainly bred for the larva that spins a cocoon from a single thread. The thread is very strong and is used for the production of silk. The silk moth is one of the few insects that are cultivated on a large scale for their product, next to the honey bee and the cochineal aphid. The silk moth is originally a nocturnal butterfly. Over time, however, it has been completely domesticated and has adapted to the day and night rhythm of the farms in which the animals are raised. The butterfly can no longer survive in nature and is dependent on humans for food and a suitable living environment. The adult butterflies, adults or imago, cannot fly because their wings are rudimentary and easy to handle. The caterpillars are also used to people and do not hide. The color of both the caterpillars and the imagos is light yellow-brown. The caterpillars have brown accents on different body segments. The adult butterflies have dark to brown wing veins. The breeding of the silk moth was a state secret of China for centuries. That came to an end when eggs and larvae of the butterfly were smuggled abroad in 552. Because of this, the butterfly was introduced to Europe. The silk moth is now grown in various parts of the world for the production of silk, among other things. The caterpillars feed on the leaves of the white mulberry (Morus alba). Originally only found in China, this plant has been planted in various parts of the world to feed the silk moth larvae. The butterfly pupae are usually killed during the production of silk from the cocoons; they are eaten as a snack in many silk-producing countries.

Naming

The species is also referred to as silkworm, silkworm butterfly and silk moth. In older literature, names such as silkworm, silkworm butterfly and silkworm butterfly are also used. The Dutch name refers to the caterpillar's ability to use a strong spider thread for the cocoon. Such a name is also used in many other languages, such as the German seidenspinner (silk spinner), the English silkmoth (silk moth) and the Spanish gusano de seda (silk worm). In other languages, the name refers to the host plant, such as the French bombyx du mûrier (mulberry bombyx) and the German maulbeerspinner (mulberry spinner). The scientific genus name Bombyx is derived from the Latin word bombyx meaning silk. Bombyx is derived from the Ancient Greek βόμβυξ (bómbux). The specific name mori means from the mulberry or on the mulberry: Morus (genitive mori) is the scientific genus name of the mulberry plant.

Distribution and habitat

The butterfly is mainly bred in Asia and some countries in South America and Africa. China is by far the frontrunner, followed by India and Uzbekistan. Other major players include Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, North Korea, Iran, Bangladesh, Japan and Turkey. Countries that produced less than ten tons of silk per year in 2016 were Bulgaria, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar, Syria, Tunisia and South Korea. The family of true spinners (Bombycidae) to which the silk moth belongs is mainly found in Asia and tropical parts of Africa. In Europe, not a single representative of the family of true spinners is originally found. In cooler climates such as Europe, a single generation develops per year; this is called univoltine. If several generations develop per year, this is called multivoltine. In tropical areas, the butterfly reproduces all year round and has more than six generations per year. The silk moth is one of the few insects that does not occur in the wild.