Raising Silkworms for Profit

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Silkworms are the larvae of the a moth known as the Bombyx mori that comes from Asia and eats only mulberry leaves. Silkworms have been raised to make silk since the time of ancient China, when silk was a rare commodity and silk making a well-kept secret. Nowadays anyone can raise silkworms to create their own silk or silkworm eggs for profit. All that is required to raise silkworms is time, preparation, care and some inexpensive equipment.

Purchase silkworm eggs. Silkworm eggs can be purchased from various pet stores or online venues. The eggs can be kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to hatch them.

Move eggs to container. A covered container with small air holes works best to keep leaves fresh and prevent them from drying out. The eggs hatch in about 7 to 20 days.

Keep the silkworms fed. Silkworms only eat mulberry leaves, so it's best if you have access to a mulberry tree. Newly hatched silkworms must eat within a day, and it's recommended to feed them at least three times a day. Take the cheese grater and grate the leaves over the silkworms.

Move the silkworms to egg cartons or paper towel tubes when they are ready to spin silk. You can tell when the silkworms are ready to spin silk because they turn yellow and cease to eat.

Move the moths to another container once they emerge from the silkworm cocoons. They will mate, produce more silkworm eggs and then die.

Take the silk cocoons and cover them in dish-washing soap;, then simmer them in water until the cocoons are soft. Drain the water, rinse the cocoons and dry them. The cocoons can then be pulled apart and spun.

Sell the silk or silkworm eggs. You're unlikely to make a lot of money on silkworms without a large-scale operation, though you can sell the silk or silkworm eggs at local farmer's markets or in online shops. As you earn money from your silkworms, you can increase the size of your silkworm population, plant mulberry trees and buy more sophisticated silkworm-raising equipment.

Tips

  • If there are no mulberry leaves immediately available, you can feed your silkworms lettuce as a substitute. However, silkworms need a diet of mulberry leaves to survive. Silkworms can go a week without feeding, but grow the more they are fed. If you have a large quantity of silkworms, you could feed them once every few days, but feeding every day is recommended for the best results. Occasionally take the silkworms out of their container and transfer them to a new one to keep them clean and free of mold.

Warnings

  • Always let food dry out before adding more, as the worms must remain dry. You can use a fan if you need to dry them out. Beware of condensation collecting in the container. If you're using a lid, occasionally take it off to let the container dry.

References

About the Author

April Lee started writing professionally in 2009. She is the marketing writer for an independently owned cheese business. She attended the University of North Texas and majored in English.

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