Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Silkworm Casualty

One of the rules of good silkworm hygiene is to remove dead ones as soon as possible. This is because the silkworm is likely to be infected with disease, and a bacterial or viral infection can spread rapidly through the entire progeny.

Several of the books I ordered at the library last week have come today: one of them, 'Global Silk Industry' by Rajat K Datta and Mahesh Nanvaty, is a particularly interesting book, but one guaranteed to induce hypochondria -by-proxy in any silkworm farmer. The diseases, which all sound as though they could be describing an interesting French cuisine, are Pebrine, first identified by Louis Pasteur, which almost decimated French sericulture in the nineteenth century, and is spread by spores; Flacherie, a viral infection (symptoms are sluggishness, loss of appetite and vomiting); Grasserie, another viral disease (particularly nasty, the silkworm swells, the skin stretches and becomes yellow and leaks fluid); Muscardine, which is fungal and comes in four varieties (according to which colour it turns the silkie*) - white, yellow, green or brown.

The silkworm can also be afflicted with pests: ants, earwigs, wasps, crickets and praying mantis as well as the Uzi fly. These lay eggs on the silkworm which hatch and leave a black scar. The book provides a picture and when I looked at my silk worms just now I thought one had some of these scars so I have put him in isolation as a precautionary measure (you can see the offending black spot near his tail in the picture below).

He looks strong and is feeding well at the moment but I shall be monitoring him carefully over the next few days.

Who says silkworm husbandry isn't exciting? (His name, by the way, is Caradoc).

*Thanks to Jem for the terminology.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Hi to Caradoc - you're naming them? How do you tell them apart..? ;)

I love those names for the diseases, I'd be busy looking up all the details like you are too. Enjoy!

Wed Jan 21, 10:58:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Poor Caradoc - I fear he is mortally wounded, due to falling out of the airing cupboard in his box! So in answer to your question, Barbara, Caradoc is the dead-looking one.Heh.

There is so much to find. I am in research heaven.

Thu Jan 22, 11:23:00 am  
Blogger jem said...

Oh dear. What a way to go. The poor little devil.

And such a perilous existence for them - a real case of survival of the fittest.

Glad you liked my naming of them!

Thu Jan 22, 12:15:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, Jem, 'tis very sad! (Actually I am a little bit disturbed by the poor grub's demise).

Thu Jan 22, 07:49:00 pm  
Blogger kayan jan said...

OMG!!!! does anyone at all want any silkworms????? though i have one question... some of my silkworms have this yellow liquid leaking from them... what is it? i am a 9 year old girl.. i am going to tell him those bugs aren't good.. he says the silworms luv to eat them xD

Thu Apr 29, 02:28:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Not sure, Kayan Jan - could be silkworm blood, I guess. It doesn't sound very healthy though!

Thu Apr 29, 05:23:00 am  

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