Friday, 7 August 2015

Silk moth

We've been looking after some Chinese Oak Silk Moth caterpillars for the last few months and the first one hatched yesterday, causing great excitement! 

Judging by his massive antennae I believe he's a male and what a handsome chap! He's quite a pale brown colour but has the most amazing hairy legs that look almost like they've got tape around them (or perhaps they're bicycle clips!)

The kids have named him Hairy Legs!
His wings have circular windows on them that are edged with pink and yellow.

They don't eat as adults and only live for a week or two. Their sole purpose in life is to find a mate, sniffing out the girls using those great bit antennae.

We had a good look at the cocoon he hatched out of. You can clearly see the hole in the top that he made to climb out of and the dark marks around the hole are from the body fluid that all moths and butterflies lose when they emerge.

Silk cocoon wrapped up in leaves

The hole the moth made to crawl out of after it hatched
We removed the leaves from the outside and decided to soak the cocoon to soften it. We took out the remains of the pupae from inside and the crunched up caterpillar skin (from the last time it changed its skin and became a pupae).

Caterpillar skin on the left and half a puape on the right
We then pulled an edge of the cocoon to see if we could get a thread from it and it turned into a long thin silk thread. It was really surprising how strong the thread was and how easily it unravelled. We made our own silk!  


  1. Wow! He is impressive! Are you using the silk for anything?

  2. We now have three of them! They are lovely and very happy to sit on your finger, which makes BMG happy! Not sure what we'll do with the silk - probably just keep it as a memento.