DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A larva ( caterpillar ) of the Saturnid moth, Samia cynthia, commencing to spin the cocoon within which it will pupate. The larva has gathered together leaves of Chinese privet ( Ligustrum lucidum ). In the picture, the head of the larva, which is the site of the spinnerets, is at the top. Silk is produced from two components, fibroin and sericin. The diameter of each strand is approximately 15microns, and the 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.
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