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The Worm Lady the silkworm life cycle

The silkworm larvae (caterpillar) spins a cocoon for protection, to permit the development of the pupa or chrysalis. which takes about three days to be fully completed, and is a similar size to a peanut shell.

The chrysalis emerges from the cocoon as a moth. In cultivated, commercially viable, silk the grub is terminated while still inside the cocoon so that the long filaments are maintained and preserved for the production of silk.

The colour of the silk filament can be determined by the diet of the larvae and seasonal influences. Mulberry leaves produce the preferred lighter coloured cocoons, but in the wild silk worms will eat other plants as well producing a variety of colours, as shown here at right >>>
The moths mate and the females lay 300, to more than 350 eggs, then die.

In the wild this cycle occurs once a year, but under controlled scientific breeding it can occur up to three times in one year

 The life cycle of a Silk Worm 

The silkworm is the larva stage of the silk moth's life cycle. Moths lay eggs which develop into the silkworm larvae, grub or caterpillar (commonly called silkworms). They eat for 20-30 days, consuming large amounts of mulberry leaves, and molt through four changes of skin or 'instars'.  Silkworms (at all four instars) are a very nutritious live feeder for reptile pet lizards and semi-aquatic pets too.

silkworm life cycle chart

Silkworms make very nutritious live feeders for all your reptiles and all sizes of lizards: The Worm Lady silkworm sizes are:

2nd instar: Small 

3rd instar: Med.

4th instar: Large

5th instar: X Large

Purchase them small to have a good live feeder supply (for 12-16 days) by feeding them with our special Green Mulberry Chow.

SMALL - $0.65 ea.MEDIUM - $0.75 ea.LARGE - $0.85 ea.X LARGE - $0.95 ea.

The Small silkworms are between 3/8" and 3/4" in length.
2nd instar: Small, 9-19 mm (3/8" - 3/4")

Medium silkworms are between 3/4" and 1 1/4" in length.
3rd instar: Medium, 19-31 mm (3/4" - 1.1/4")

Large silkworms are between 1.1/4" and 1 7/8" in length.
4th instar: Large, 31- 44 mm (1.1/4" - 1.7/8")

X Large silkworms are between 1 7/8" and 2 1/2" in length.
5th instar: X Large, 44-64 mm (1.7/8" - 2.1/2")
silkworm egg colours
The common name silkworm is used to identify the larva stage of the moth Bombyx mori.

The SilkWorm larval life has five instars, with four skin molts, and four distinct development stages, to complete one generation of the species, which are: ova, larvae, pupae, and imago.
The life-cycle takes 5-7 weeks - depending on climate conditions.  

After hatching the larvae go through four molts as they grow, shedding their old skin and growing new larger ones. The second to fifth instars are the four sizes which are used to feed reptile pets.
These four larva sizes are listed above.

 Silkworm Life Cycle | Silkworms  | Silkworm 'live feeder worms'.

The Latin (scientific) name for the silkworm is Bombyx mori, which means "silkworm of the black mulberry tree".  Silkworms are caterpillars that spin a silk cocoon and change into silkworm moths, while inside their cocoon, emerging to mate and lay eggs. 

After hatching from an egg the worm takes about one month to grow large enough to spin the silk. These horworms then spend about three weeks in the cocoon to emerge as a moth, to mate and lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into worms in a few weeks, and then the cycle repeats itself.

Silkworms go through four stages of development, as do most insects:  egg, larva, pupa and adult: the adult (imago) stage is the silkworm moth. The larva is the silkworm caterpillar.  Since the silkworms (that is the larvae stage) grow so much they must shed their skin four times while growing.  These stages-within-a-stage are called instars.  Silkworms only eat fresh mulberry leaves.  Silkworms do 85% of their eating during their 5th instar as it reaches around 2-3/4" in lenght; the larva has increased its size 10,000 times, since birth, and its silk glands now make up 25% of its body weight, ready to spin its silk cocoon.

The first chart (below left) shows the entire life-cycle (clockwise). The second photo shows a silkworm caterpillar in the 5th instar, the pupa (brown), the silk cocoon (yellow), and finally the silk moth.  The third photo shows 3 silkworms in their 4th instar stage (about 2" long).  The last photo (below right) shows the silk moth, which does not eat or defecate, and only lives for a couple of days to lay her eggs and then dies.  The entire life-cycle is between five and a half weeks to seven weeks, depending on climate conditions.

Silkworms (in the second to the fifth intars) make excellent live feeders for your exotic omnivorous pets as they are high in protein and low in fat, have a balanced one-to-one Calcium-to-Phosphorous ratio, and are the only larvae producing the enzyme 'serrapeptase' which is an excellent anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, aids calcium absorption and also fights arterial plaque (cleanses the blood and the liver, which could help combat Fatty Liver Disease and Adenovirus).

silkworm life cycle color chart
silkworm four stages photo
silkworms 5th instar (large)
silkworm moth

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We ship products Canada-Wide using mainly FedEx and Canada Post but we reserve the right to use the carrier of our choice. You can estimate your shipping charges at any time before ordering by using "contact us" --> Estimate Shipping.  Replacements of DOA feeders are allowed within 24 hours of receiving products.  Items must be photographed for proof of death and sent by e-mail to: [email protected].  We will issue a replacement product with your next order.  We cannot refund shipping charges.  See our shipping policy and terms of service.

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