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Apparently, silkworm moths have the ability to fly!

Discussion in 'Insects, Other Invertebrates & Arthropods' started by bugmankeith, Dec 7, 2010.

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    I found this article very interesting, but i'm not surprised as i've already seen this for myself after raising silkmoths. I kept mine separated by gender, and after a few days I left the cage door with all my males open to see how long it would take for them to reach the cage with the females, and a few of them flew across my room. After laying eggs, I had a female silk moth I brought outside actually fly for almost 2 minutes around my yard just like a normal moth flight. I could not believe my eyes. If I raise them again in Summer I will get video of it.

    Something cool to try if your raising them. Also, anyone know where I can see pictures of male and female silkmoth pupae to id them?
    http://www.biolbull.org/cgi/reprint/18/3/120.pdf
     
  2. dtknow

    dtknow Arachnoking Old Timer

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    Interesting(though appears largely anecdotal...guessing it is very old literature). I wonder if their is any way to get silkworms back to the state where the cats will search for their food efficiently. Then they could be bagged on mulberry trees.
     
  3. I actually tried this in mid spring as I have acces to a giant white mulberry tree. I released silkworms at their 2nd instar ( so I could actually see them on the tree). I placed them all on the branches to test and see if they would refuse to move even if hungry. The next day I checked and the leaves in that area had been eaten, though they preferred the younger, tender leaves to mature leaves. A few had fallen out of the tree so I placed them back. 2 days pass and it had been slightly chilly and raining. I expected to go back and see none alive, but to my surprise, they were resting under the leaves to stay dry and they had shed! Another few days go by and they are 2nd to last instar. This is when things got bad. As they grew they spread out more and were more active, but the local yellow jackets ( not even the birds) had found them and literally came by, bit the silkworms in half, and carried them off. At the end I only found 2 who made it to last instar but never found any cocoons, though if they dropped on the ground they might have pupated there.

    My guess, if a lot more were released, or this was in a greenhouse, we could raise them naturally. I put. Female moth on the branches from my house and the eggs she laid on the branches survived winter and hatched in spring, but I think the newly hatched larvae got blown by the wind.
     
  4. Louise E. Rothstein

    Louise E. Rothstein Arachnobaron Old Timer

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    Apparently silk moths have the ability to fly!

    None of my silk moths could really fly.
    Nor could they survive ANY insect diseases... if I did not disinfect every single leaf that they ate they would get sick...And infect their own eggs:
    which guaranteed frequent "die offs" until I gave up on them.

    I wonder whether your flying silk moths could have reconstituted the original genotype? Which could fly,since the ancient wildings would have; AND they would have also had to eat leaves that were not disinfected.

    Are your flying silkmoths able to do this?

    Do they have the ancient hardihood that mine had lost?

    With great interest,

    Louise Esther Rothstein.
     
  5. Louise E. Rothstein

    Louise E. Rothstein Arachnobaron Old Timer

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    Apparently silkworm moths have the ability to fly!

    When I clicked on the "biobulletin" on this thread I noticed that the flying silkmoths' wings were more "normal" than my moths' were.

    One strain of my moths had two wings sprouting from each wing socket:
    which crowded the wings sufficiently to make flight impossible...
    although they did try to.

    The other strain had wings that did not separate completely.
    They stayed "stuck" together.
    "Stuck" two by two;so ;that they could not fly.

    The moths in the bulletin had normal wings:but did not use them.
    Their physical structure had not been altered; but their instincts had:
    they did NOT try to fly on the day they emerged.

    Those that DID fly might have been more like the first generations.

    Could they be bred back to the way they once were?
     
  6. They were just ordinary silkworms I got from Mulberry Farms (company), that is unless they sent me some new disease resistant strain? Some did die, but very few, I got them as eggs. They were the normal white color caterpillar. I never washed my leaves at all. I took an empty 10 gallon tank with a bunch of fresh white mulberry branches (with leaves) I cut daily and put them in the tank, and let the silkworms roam around the whole tank. Before pupation, I put them in a special enclosure my grandfather hand built. It was a tall,wood frame with mesh in the frames instead of glass. The pupated easier with a frame and mesh to climb so they didnt overcrowd.

    As I picked leaves I also ate some fresh mulberries for myself. :D

    I've heard some are attempting to see if they can create a variety that the male readily flies. But to the silk industry, flight would be a nuisance or having caterpillars that roam, so I doubt they will try.
     
  7. dtknow

    dtknow Arachnoking Old Timer

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    Their are numerous different strains of silkworm, many which are resistant to various diseases that plague silkworms. Most important to most people who raise them(i.e...for silk) is the different colors of silk these strains produce(white, yellow, or pink). I bet by crossing several strains and raising them seminaturally for a few generations you could create the perfect silkmoth. Which I think would be one that.

    -can feed itself if caged on the tree
    -vigorous/fast growing/disease resistant
    -prolific
    -non flying.(or at least weak fliers which chams and whatnot might enjoy)

    Most breeders of silkworms selected for quantity of silk produced(a few strains occasionally have to be cut out of their cocoons as they produce too much silk). I bet that silk and egg production are negatively correlated so selecting for somewhat thinner cocoons might be better.
     
  8. Louise E. Rothstein

    Louise E. Rothstein Arachnobaron Old Timer

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    Apparently,silkworm moths have the ability to fly!

    Wild silkmoths secrete an alkaline solvent in order to "punch" "exit doors" through their cocoons when they are ready to breed:
    -and human silk spinners prefer cocoons that do NOT have holes in them.

    The silkmoths who are said to produce "too much silk" probably do not produce effective amounts of the natural solvent that many of their wild relatives employ to punch exit doors through really THICK cocoons.

    Ancient Asian breeders might have chosen to breed those who had to be cut out of their cocoons because "perfect" cocoons were worth more than HOLES.

    Since ancient Asian labor cost a LOT less than labor costs here
    the extra work involved in cutting cocoons to free breeding moths did not cost too much then,but,since it would cost too much here,I am pretty sure that this breeding program has been allowed to lapse.
     
  9. Perhaps, because I never had trouble with any emerging from their cocoons.
     
  10. dtknow

    dtknow Arachnoking Old Timer

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    Which is why when silk is spun the moths are killed to do so.
    Not quite sure what you are saying here. In truth probably not important as like you said this likely won't be an issue. But if I were to selectively breed a workhorse feeder strain of silkmoth I would select for somewhat thinner cocoons more comparable to what some wild moths produce(those from milder climates).
     
  11. Louise E. Rothstein

    Louise E. Rothstein Arachnobaron Old Timer

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    Apparently, silkworm moths haave the ability to fly!

    A "workhorse feeder" would be a LARGE caterpillar that spins a LARGE cocoon.
    Although your strain clearly differs from my own I suspect that breeding for noticeably thin cocoons would be very likely to produce high percentages of both smaller cocoons and smaller silkmoths.

    You might do both.
    Separate your stock and choose "Thin cocoons" for "Exhibit A" versus
    "Big fat fellows" for "Part B."

    To see what happens.
     
  12. dtknow

    dtknow Arachnoking Old Timer

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    I would bet size of cocoon vs thickness are two independent traits. You could breed a large silkworm moth that spins a thinner cocoon.

    It depends also on what size feeders you need. If you don't particularly need large feeders(esp. anyone who wants hatchling silkworms). I think it would be more advantageous to have a somewhat smaller strain(even if they turn out to be somewhat less prolific which is invariable)-you could raise more individuals on the same amount of food.
     
  13. Louise E. Rothstein

    Louise E. Rothstein Arachnobaron Old Timer

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    Apparently,silkworm moths have the ability to fly!

    You are probably right...silkworms' wild relatives here do produce small thin cocoons,small thick cocoons,large thick cocoons,and large "thins."

    Since these are different species genes must be responsible.

    This might apply to silkworms too.
    Please let us know if it is.
     
  14. So is anyone going to try this you think? There are a lot of insect fanatics here and smart people so even if only a few of you try some various experiments that would be a big help!
    Maybe someone on here will be the first to sell silkworms that are not completely helpless and with males that can fly!