Silkworm silk fibres (SEM)

Silkworm silk fibres (SEM)

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Credit: POWER AND SYRED/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Silkworm silk fibres, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). The silkworm is the larva or caterpillar of the silkmoth which has been domesticated from the wild silkmoth Bombyx mandarina. The domesticated silkmoth (Bombyx mori) is now completely dependent on human rearing as it does not occur in the wild but it can still breed with the wild silkmoth Bombyx mandarina and often produces hybrids. The larva prefers to eat leaves of the white mulberry but will eat leaves from other mulberry trees. They are veracious eaters and molt 4 times before going into the pupa phase of their life cycle. This is when they spin silk from their salivary glands and wrap themselves in it making a cocoon for protection when they are nearly motionless and most vulnerable. Each cocoon can have a thread of raw silk from 300 to around 900 meters long. Magnification x2120 (x525 at 10cm wide).

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Keywords: bombyx mandarina, bombyx mori, cocoon, domesticated, fibre, fibres, materials, mulberry tree, pupa, salivary glands, scanning electron micrograph, scanning electron microscope, sem, silk, silk moth, silk worm, textiles, thread, threads

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