Cocoons of Chinese silkmoth

Cocoons of Chinese silkmoth

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Two cocoons in process of being spun by larvae (caterpillars) of the Saturnid silkmoth, Samia cynthia. The cocoons are anchored to twigs of common privet, Ligustrum vulgare, and each will eventually contain a pupa. In the picture, the larvae are discernible, most clearly in the upper cocoon (green and yellow, head uppermost). Silk is produced from two components, fibroin and sericin. The diameter of each strand is approximately 15microns, and each final cocoon will contain several hundred metres of silk. S. cynthia is one source of "wild silk". Commercially produced silk is made by a different moth, Bombyx mori, an entirely domesticated species unknown in the wild. S. cynthia is native to Central and Eastern China, but is now also found in parts of Europe and the USA following importation. Each cocoon is approximately 5cm long.

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Keywords: biological, biology, caterpillar, china, cocoon, fibroin, larva, ligustrum vulgare, privet, samia cynthia, sericin, silk, silkmoth, wild silk, zoological, zoology

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