Friday, 18 June 2010
Silkworms have been bred for docility as well as the quality of the silk over thousands of years. The modern hybrids won't walk more than a few centimetres to find food. If the mulberry isn't directly overhead or right beside them they would starve before going foraging for themselves. It would be just to much trouble to raise a lot of wander lusting silkworms hiding in all corners of the house. They have to stay in place. Like foot-binding the ancient Chinese were very good with limiting mobility for convenience sake. The urge to walk was simply bred out.
There is still a variety of wild silkworm closely related to his/her contemporary cousins. They are called kuwako locally. They seem Cro-Magnon like. Stockier with a large brow. Slightly hairier. Almost always found solitary disinterestedly nibbling on leaf they seem to have been cast out from all the games the other reindeer play.
You can find them occasionally on the back of mulberry leaves brought home to feed their domesticated relatives . I've tried to keep the wild ones from straying, tempting them with the freshest choice mulberry I can find. Alas, they are a free spirited variety and need to roam. So they end up on the mulberryless ceiling or squashed on the floor. I found this sexy pre-historic one on the leaves last night and is now relocated to the dozens of saplings in front of the house. I hope it hangs around long enough to make a cocoon.
You can find their thin beige-coloured cocoons in the dead of winter clinging to the bare branches of the sleeping mulberry. (See January 3rd blog picture.) A small hole on the top of the cocoon to show that no one is home and the occupant flew off as a moth months before.
Just for reference here is a photo of his modern cousins.