- silkworm moth
any of several moths of the families Bombycidae and Saturniidae, the larvae of which are silkworms.[1805-15]
* * *Any moth in the genus Bombyx (family Bombycidae).The Chinese silkworm (B. mori) has been used in commercial silk production for centuries. The adult, which has a wingspan of about 2 in. (50 mm) and a thick, hairy body, lives only two or three days. The female lays 300–500 eggs. The pale, naked larvae are fed mulberry leaves until pupation begins, when they are about 3 in. (75 mm) long. They spin a cocoon of one continuous white or yellow silken thread, about 1,000 yards (900 m) long. The pupa is killed with hot air or steam to preserve the thread intact. See also saturniid moth.Silkworm larvae (Bombyx) feeding on mulberry leavesUPI
* * *▪ insectlepidopteran whose caterpillar has been used in silk production (sericulture (silk)) for thousands of years. Although native to China, the silkworm has been introduced throughout the world and approaches complete domestication. The adult attains a wingspan of 40 to 50 mm (about 2 inches) and has a thick bristly body. In its brief adulthood of two or three days, it does not eat and seldom flies. The female lays about 300 to 500 eggs.Besides its natural food of mulberry leaves, silkworm caterpillars may sometimes eat the foliage of the Osage orange or lettuce. The pale larva has a characteristic posterior (caudal) horn. It attains a maximum length of 75 mm (about 3 inches) during a 45-day growing period. Pupation occurs within a cocoon that is made of one continuous white or yellow strand of silk averaging about 915 metres (1,000 yards) long. This filament is preserved intact for commercial use by killing the pupa with hot air or steam. This moth is one of 60 species in the family Bombycidae. Other silkworm moth families are the giant (Saturniidae (saturniid moth)), American (Apatelodidae), tropical American (Oxytenidae), Australian (Carthaeidae), and autumn (Lemoniidae) silk moths.
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