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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Beginning of the End!

Just checked the cocoons, which I'd almost given up on, and look what I found :-

My very first silk moth!  I think it's a female, for two reasons : firstly, it's fat, so probably full of eggs; secondly, it's just sitting there, very quietly, not moving much - the males flap their wings a lot and generally just fuss about. You can see the cocoon she emerged from alongside, and the brown stain is what they exude to dissolve the silk strands to enable them to escape from the cocoon.  I have no clue how long she will live without a mate, but hopefully for 3 or 4 days, as it may be that long before the others emerge.

Apparently they hatch at dawn, so she'd probably been sitting there for a couple of hours before I thought to look.

I find it absolutely fascinating and amazing that a 3" long, fat, black and white stripy worm can change so completely into something so beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I normally don't like moths in the least, especially with all the wool we have around the house, but this one is so pretty!

Keep your fingers crossed for me that the rest hatch out so she gets a mate.
I can't imagine what it must feel like to be the only one of your kind, in this location anyway.

P.S.  After searching the internet all morning for photos, I've finally decided it's a male after all.  Apparently they only flap their wings and get excited when there's a female around "scenting".

P.P.S.  The other thing I got wrong was the stain - it's not the enzyme they use to dissolve the silk, apparently it's the stuff they use to plump their wings up after they've emerged.  When they've done that, the rest is jetissoned as waste.


  1. How beautiful! It is very chunky... I can see why you thought it might be full of eggs! I've got my fingers crossed that he hangs around long enough to mate! How many others have you got that could potentially hatch? :)

  2. Hi Kate,

    There are definitely another seven, but it could be another two days before any more hatch. There were none this morning, so if it's true they only emerge at dawn, this moth's got another solitary day! Eventually it will starve to death because they don't eat - I don't think they have mouths. Their only purpose now (for the males) is to mate and then die.