Saturday, March 21, 2009

Silkworm Housing Crisis

Despite Hodmandod Minor's somewhat nonchalant attitude to sericulture (throwing in a bit of silkworm diet after being nagged on the phone, then ramming down the lid and running away fast) there were surprisingly few silkworm casualties on my return. The night I got back I spent until midnight picking out withered grey corpses, putting them on fresh paper and grating in more food. Altogether there were about six - mostly in the box that was streaming with condensation - but there have been more casualties since. At one stage there seemed to be so many corpses every time I looked that I was thinking that my little colony was suffering from a plague (like the one that afflicted most of Europe in the nineteenth century) and could understand how desperate the sericulturists must have felt as generation after generation of silkworms succumbed no matter what anyone did.

However, since it is mainly the small ones that have died, I think a lot of this must be natural wastage and there are about two hundred left. They are now eating very well and getting a lot larger. Even though they are as large as the twenty or so I had at the start they are still shedding skins (which my original ones never did) so I think they are in their fourth or fifth instar. They are easier to handle now, but the accommodation is becoming a problem. Yesterday I made one of my rare journeys into town and found that the cheap household store Wilkinsons sell ideal 7 litre plastic boxes for sericulture, so I came home with three. Hodmandod Senior then drilled hundreds of holes in their lids and the silkworms now look a lot more comfortable.

The only drawback to all this is that although the silkworms have acquired more room so our towels have less,

Silkworms at home in the Hodmandod Airing Cupboard - there are a second layer of boxes behind.

and it is taking me a good hour twice a day to clean them out and feed them. Still, I'm sure it will be worth it (though can't think how, just at the moment).


Blogger Kay said...

A farm in an airing cupboard! Love it!

Sun Mar 22, 02:32:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Heh! Yes, Kay,exactly - I hadn't thought of that. I just hope it doesn't start smelling like a farmyard too.

Sun Mar 22, 12:06:00 pm  
Blogger jem said...

I just did a slow gulp when I saw your photo and read your words - warm as I am to your little wriggling children, we have those blue lidded boxes in our kitchen, for cakes and biscuits and the like, and now I'm feeling a little queasy about them!

Mon Mar 23, 12:28:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Heh, yes - that blue lidded box held biscuits once too - and it didn't feel right putting the silkworms in there, really - but I was desperate :-)

Mon Mar 23, 02:07:00 pm  

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