If you are wondering where most of your silk comes from and what is being done in these countries, let’s take a look at the silk industry itself in Thailand, Japan and China to find out exactly what it produces and how.
Silk production in Thailand is highly specialized. The Thai moth is best adapted to tropical conditions. This butterfly is called polyvoltin, which means that it can produce at least ten batches of eggs per year. They hand-wrap the silk of Thai butterflies from green cocoons. There are still live dolls in these cocoons. Dolls of these cocoons do not kill before rolling, as it will make it very difficult to unwind. They place green cocoons in hot, almost boiling water. This process weakens the end of the wire. They only have about 10 days to complete this process before the butterflies come out and destroy the cocoon. Often workers do not have enough time. This limits the size of the industry and is one of the reasons why silk is so expensive. The most experienced workers usually produce only about 300 kg per day.
Silk production in China and Japan is slightly different. The most commonly used moth in these countries is monovoltin or bivoltin. These butterflies produce one and sometimes two batches of eggs a year. They are then placed in a suspended environment so they can come out at a more comfortable time. These cocoons are very large, which makes them more suitable for machine winding. They produce a filament of glow from one to two kilometers long. Adult butterflies, which are commonly used for production, are too thick to fly. Flying moths do not produce enough silk to be bred.
The larvae bred by silk producers from China and Japan, unlike very hardy larvae from Thailand, are very fragile and require careful care. They are bred selectively, and their goal is to achieve maximum harvest with minimal effort. In Thailand, they receive about 26 kg of raw silk per hectare. Production in Korea is about 80 kg per hectare, and in China 125 kg per hectare.
In 1995, a large silk factory was founded in Hangzhou, China. This factory can produce more than a million silk blouses annually. Yes, silk production in these countries is big business, which makes up most of their economy.
While silk production can be big business in these countries, there are those who, due to the peculiarities of the industry, will die just as quickly. The reason is simple. When making these silk products, living things die. While this is not news (just look at the fur industry), activists opposed to the fur industry are probably among the most high-profile rallies and protests in the world. So far, their efforts have not even stopped the work of one of the largest industries in this part of the world. But the struggle continues.