Monday, February 16, 2009

Silkworm Reproduction

I lift the lid. I know the sound by now; a desperate throbbing of wings. Two silk moths huddles together - the tip of his abdomen inserted into the tip of another. I feel like I shouldn't be watching, but I do. In fact, I am mesmerised.

Clearly it requires effort. Slowly, it seems, this male moth is pumping all that remains of his life into hers. All those days of eating, eating, eating - all for this. It goes on and on, day after night after day. A short rest and then he starts again: a fast beating of the wings, the tiniest shove. And she just sits there. Fatly immobile. Docilely smug. As soon as she emerges they are after her. A little eau de Bombxyol behind a middle segment and she could be anyone's.

Then, a day or so later, they will mysteriously detach. He might busy himself with a search for another, but shortly thereafter he will die. She, meanwhile, will excrete one glistening yellow drop of liquid - the remains of whatever toxins remain inside her - and then will start to lay her eggs. She places them delicately, her abdomen tip describing circles and lines, one egg and then another, beads the size of pin heads, a production line of seeds to harden, darken and eventually become another - just like her.

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Blogger Jud said...

A little scientific voyeurism never hurt anyone, or perhaps it has and I just didn't hear about it.

"Clearly it requires effort." You bet your hinder it does - the preening, worrying if your wings are 'just so', wondering if you flapping technique will catch the attention of her compound eyes, the dollars (or pounds or euros or whatever you use for currency these days) spent on antennae wax to give them that masculine sheen. All that for a little cuddle, and as you wrote "she just sits there."

Women. I guess we'll just never understand them.

Thu Feb 19, 03:03:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Brilliant, Jud, just brilliant! Thank you.

Thu Feb 19, 03:10:00 pm  
Blogger jem said...

Beautifully written Clare. I think sometimes humans are dismissive when they refer to animal sex as somehow beneath the human equivalent. At least these moths are dedicated to sex and reproduction for its own sake - they are focused, they aren't using it for other purposes. And at least he dies happy!

Fri Feb 20, 11:45:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thank you very much, Jem. I dithered about publishing that post, felt a little embarrassed about it, but I'm glad I did now!

Fri Feb 20, 11:57:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awwwwwwwwww thats so sweet

Sat Nov 20, 07:09:00 pm  

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