It seems like it’s no secret that silkworms are in high demand. Unfortunately, there are still few who try the silkworm farming business. Even though if you look at this business again, the opportunity is huge.
Apart from the fashion world, it turns out that cocoons are often used for beauty masks. Sometimes we are a little afraid to try this business because of the fear of large losses. But does it have to be as complicated as the price in the market?
High price, high maintenance? After reading this review, you might just decide.
Overview of the Silk Caterpillar (Mulberry Caterpillar)
Mulberry caterpillar or better known as Silk caterpillar is a type of moth that can produce silk fiber or thread. This caterpillar only eats Mulberry leaves, so to cultivate it, farmers must have a good supply of Mulberry leaves.
In developing into a caterpillar, a silkworm egg takes 10 days to hatch. After the egg hatches and becomes a caterpillar, a raw cocoon will form.
The cocoons are then spun into silk threads that can reach 300 meters to 900 meters in length with a diameter of 10 micrometers.
There are four molting phases in the life of a Silkworm. When the color of the silkworm’s skin is yellowish and tighter, this indicates that the silkworm will soon wrap itself up and turn into a cocoon.
Here is a video of the Silkworm Life Phases
Seedling Care and Harvesting Procedures
A. What is the Ideal Silk Cage?
1. Cage Location
Indeed, silkworms are special animals in the farming world. The cage for these caterpillars must be safe; away from animals, if possible close to murbay trees, otherwise the cage will be made close to its natural environment.
Also, doors and windows should face north and south to avoid sun exposure. One more thing! The cage should be made of wood. Avoid anything made of metal as it has a big effect on the humidity level.
2. Silkworm Racks
Make stacking racks to accommodate the silkworms. They are rectangular boxes. Make as many silkworm boxes as possible to separate the young and adult silkworms.
B. Silkworm Care
The most important thing that silkworm farming entrepreneurs need to be aware of is maintenance. This includes the disinfection process. Sterilize the cage room with chlorine solution or formalin.
The recommended levels are 0.5% (chlorine) and 3% (formalin). Then close the room to kill pathogens, and reopen it 24 hours before the caterpillar trapping begins.
C. Silkworm Nursery
Next comes the incubation process. The incubation period should be around 25°C with 80%-85% humidity. The caterpillars will hatch within 10-12 days. When the silkworm seedlings hatch, take the baby caterpillars carefully and transfer them to a box lined with paraffin paper or old newspapers and then put fresh young murbery leaves that have been chopped.
The paper is used to keep the murbery leaves moist and fresh. If you are worried about wounding the caterpillar, use chicken or goose feathers to move the caterpillar from the hatchery.
D. How to Feed Silkworms
There are several stages of care that require different treatments. So it’s not all about feeding. The following important things must be considered:
Instar 1- the period after birth. About 4 days these young caterpillars need nutrition and need to eat. Give some chopped young murbery leaves.
Moulting – this period is the exfoliation of the skin and is included in the instar stage which lasts about 18-24 hours. Do not feed during this period. Signs of moulting include an enlarged head, lifting and the caterpillar not moving.
Note: while the moulting process is occurring, the racks should be dry and uncovered.
When the moulting period is over, they must be separated immediately. The signs are that the caterpillar is active, the mouth is wider, the skin is loose and skin flakes are visible on the box.
Instar 2 – feed the caterpillars with leaves for about 4 days before returning to another moulting session.
Instar 3 – when the second cycle is complete, feed fresh, green murbey leaves for 3 days. Usually after this it will return to the moulting period.
Instar 4 – Feed again for 6 days.
Instar 5 – During this period, feed for 7 days and observe any changes in its body, lest it gets too big and mature.
E. Mounting Process
The mounting period is when the caterpillars will be moved from the breeding rack to the montage. This period starts after the end of the 5th instar. At this time, the silkworms are mature. Well, the signs include:
The larvae stop eating and look for a corner to do their spinning. Usually they move to the corner of the box.
The color is creamy white and the body is filled with silk.
Transferring the caterpillars to the pounting process requires preparing a box containing more small boxes so that the caterpillars can form cocoons. The ideal temperature is 26°C with 60-70% humidity.
F. When to Harvest Silkworms?
Silkworms can be harvested after day 7-8. In this case, the caterpillar will form itself into a pupa and the caterpillar becomes hardened and brownish in color.
In addition to the above factors, there are other things to consider. Your silkworm farming business is bound to be affected by diseases and these treatments can vary. As soon as you see a caterpillar affected by a disease, separate it immediately because it can be contagious and disrupt the productivity of your silkworm farming business.