DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cocoons of the Saturnid moth, Samia cynthia. S. cynthia is one source of "wild silk". Silk is spun by the larva ( caterpillar ) of the moth prior to pupation. The cocoon encloses and protects the pupa as it undergoes its final metamorphosis into the adult moth (the imago). The cocoons are approximately 5cm long.Silk is produced from two components, fibroin and sericin. The diameter of each strand is approximately 15microns, and a cocoon contains several hundred metres of 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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