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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Super-Charged Worms

I had a bit of a mysterious event a few nights ago with my silkworms.  I'd taken them to the bedroom ready to put on top of the water heater in the bathroom for the night, but put them on the bed whilst I collected leaves to feed them.  When I went back, about half an hour later, they were extremely agitated, all sitting up on their hind legs waving their heads around.  Some were climbing out of their boxes, and some already had escaped onto the bed.

This really shouldn't happen until they get to the cocoon stage.  When they're ready to pupate they will start to wander and climb out of the box looking for somewhere suitable to make their cocoons.  That's the only time they do it.  So what was all this about?  This was all of the worms, even the smaller ones.

I put them back into their boxes, fed them, and then wondered what on earth to do with them.  I really didn't want a bathroom full of silkworms climbing everywhere.  In the end, I stacked the boxes and wrapped them up in a thin curtain (voile?) so they couldn't escape and left them on the bedroom floor.

By morning, a few more had climbed out but were contained in the curtain.  I put them back, fed them, and stuck them out on the patio, hoping for the best.

The answer to this little problem finally hit me in the early hours of the morning - our bed is a waterbed and is heated by an electric heating pad which sits under the mattress. The worms could obviously feel the current and became very upset about it.  It took them about 24 hours to settle down properly, but they're fine now.

Today, when I was changing their bedding, I separated out some of the biggest worms into another box.  These are the ones which will be allowed to emerge from their cocoons, mate and lay eggs for next year.  Judging by their size, I don't think it will be long before they start to spin their cocoons.  Maybe it's time to get some boxes made up with toilet roll inners so they have somewhere to spin.

This one looks like it has eyes on its back

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