Offer them some candy.
Candy colored silkworms that is.
|"Glowing Cyan", Au Natural, "Magic Purple"|
Nope, these are not an experiment in genetic engineering gone wrong. Nor are they the latest in a series of failed attempts by the Easter bunny's cousin, Earl, to replace Jelly beans. These lucky fellows get their lovely hues from a special chow that has dye included in it.
Before you go get the food coloring out of the cupboard, you should know that not just any old dye will work. Reasearchers have spent quite a bit of effort figuring out exactly what dyes will and won't do the trick and they aren't very keen on sharing their secrets. But you can check out these links to learn more:
If you're shaking your head thinking what a waste of time it is coloring silkworms when the world has greater problems, then put your mind at ease. The dye passes from the silkworms into their silk resulting in silk fibers that don't require dyeing. That translates to a savings in water, energy, time and chemicals reducing the carbon footprint of the silk industry. Scientist are also looking into possible uses in the medical field. Antibiotic silk bandage anyone?
I got my exotic colored silkworm chow from Nancy at http://www.ladysilkworm.com/index.html .
I highly recommend giving her a try. She is a super sweet lady who loves silkies, and has been super helpful with excellent customer service and prompt shipping.
I started my colored guys with Glowing Cyan, and Magic Purple. At first, they wouldn't eat the colored chow. I mixed it with their regular chow and gradually weaned them over. Since then, I have done a few experiments with the colors and tried to keep track of how they develop.
The cyan color develops slower than the Purple. It took 2 days and 1 day respectively for the worms to show a hint of color, and another 2 days for them to copletely develope.
I also tried switching colored food after the color had developed, feeding the cyans some purple and the purples some cyan. The cyan picked up a purple tinge after 1 day, where the purple being fed cyan took 2-3 days to develope the same color. Those have all been fed blue for the last 2 days and the color has been constant. I just got a batch of "Cotton Candy" /pink and will let you know how that turns out.
|Silkworms on plain and colored chows: Au Natural, fed 1 day on "Magic Purple", fed "Magic Purple" for 4 days, fed "Glowing Cyan" for 4 days followed by "Magic Purple" for one, "Glowing Cyan" for 5 days.|
|Checking the spinning wheel to see if it's "up to snuff".|