Silk is made by the silkworm.
Silkworms aren't really worms at all, but
caterpillars. Like other caterpillars, a silkworm
spins a cocoon for shelter while it changes
into a moth. Silkworms produce the silk thread
from specialized silk glands. The entire
cocoon is made from one
single, unbroken thread.
The thread of a single cocoon can be over 3000
ft long, and it takes 3000 cocoons to make a pound
of silk cloth. The Chinese learned to cultivate
silk worms and make silk clothing over 5000 years
ago. The caterpillars must be fed only leaves from
the mulberry tree to survive. After the
cocoons are spun, they are boiled in water. As the
cocoon loosens, the end of the thread is found and
the silk gently pulled from the water.
Today silkworms only occur in captivity,
and the adults have lost their ability to fly or
survive in the wild.
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