Apr 22, 2011

From Joy to Ick! or 5 things about Silkies that creep me out!

I suppose I must preface this by saying yes it is true I don't care much for insects.  The fliers I don't mind , but crawlers, slitherers and wigglers do tend to give me the heeby jeebies. 

 "So why on earth are you raising silk worms?"  you may ask. 

Silk fiber to spin.  I mean have you seen the price of it lately?  Sure, there is an element of overcoming a challenge that I like.  And I love being able to say "why yes, I have raised silk worms." That works into the spinning discussion of my historical impression after all.  And it is a great experience for the kids.  But the true root of it is I wants me some silk to spin and possibly reel. 

When I started this endevor, I researched, saw the pictures, and heard all the horror stories of serial killer type illnesses that can destroy an entire crop, and I knew at some point there would be an ick factor.  Still, there are a few things I just was not prepared for.  So in an effort to edify others who might try this little endevor on their own, I present the following:

those little specks are frass(poop)
5 Things about Silk Worms that CREEP me out!

1. The Smell.  Eww!  Silkies themselves don't smell.  Silkworm chow has a very herby somewhat metalic scent which while potent is not too bad on it's own.  However, if you mix that with the warm plastic styrofoam aroma of the incubator, it is just discusting. 

2. They kind of look like maggots, at least the ones that haven't molted yet.  I'm hoping as they begin to look more like caterpillars, they might become "cute".  Until then, they're just icky.

3. The molting process.  The actual shedding skin part is fine, it's what happens leading up to it that I have issues with.  It's called the prayer pose.  Imagine if you will, 100 maggot like larvae lying statue still for nearly a day with their backs arched, heads lifted toward the heavens as though awaiting orders from an unseen force. It's like a scene straight out of the 80's horror flick Prince of Darkness.  And what makes it worse is that at this point, they have very unsetteling flesh like color.  Upon the first shedding, the flesh color is replaced by a morbid grey color. Doesn't that sound nice?

4. After they molt they have no faces!  O.K., so that's a slight exageration.  In reality, you just can't see their faces.  When silkworms first hatch, their bodies are flexible and soft and their heads are a shiny black ball that doesn't stretch.  As they grow, the body can expand to a point, but not the black head or "face plate".  When they shed their skin, the face plate pops off and until the new one has a chance to harded, it is the same color as the rest of the worm making it look like it has no face.     

5. They're trying to escape!  I had read that until they start to cocoon, they would be happy in their little container, and not try to crawl out.  This morning, I awoke to the following sight.  I know it's not a massive jail break, but it's enough to "bug" me.  Forgive the pun.


1 comment:

  1. I think it is really neat that you are raising silkworms! I have a friend that has a earthworm farm in her pantry. It's a little interesting! I sent her you blog link because I know she'll be super interested!

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