The most important bugs in fashion

The Bombyx Mori, also known as the Silkworm is not only one of the most important bugs for making clothing, but because of what humans depend on these worms for, they are also very important to the worldwide economy. The Silkworm eats mostly white mulberry leaves, however they will eat many different types of leaves as well. One strange fact about these worms is that they wouldn't be able to reproduce if they didn't have humans to help them. Ironically though, it is also because of humans that they are in this situation. These worms were domesticated over 5,000 years ago in China. Since then, the production of silk coming from these worms has increased by ten times what they used to create! This is because they were selectively bred, meaning only the best of the best producers were allowed to breed, and the worms that were not up to par were not allowed. This is why they are no longer able to breed themselves. Because humans have controlled their reproduction for so long, they have slowly grown to depend on the help of humans to reproduce.

So, how did these worms become the go to bugs to make some of the finest type of clothing in the world? Well, over 5,000 years ago when people in China were looking for a way to make fine clothes, they discovered the cocoon of the silkworm, and its fiber like qualities. Over time, they discovered that boiling these cocoons will make them dissolve and create long fibers that can be fed into a spinning reel used for the production of clothes. People who make silk clothing also have to have a large amount of mulberry leaves! It takes over 3,000 mulberry leaves being eaten by the silkworms to produce just 2.2 pounds of silk. So, the production of silk is quite a long, tedious process, which is why it is so expensive. Not only do they have to buy tons of silkworms, but they also have to have enough leaves to feed them which means planting and keeping up trees, they then have to breed them properly so that they can have larvae that will produce cocoons that can turn into silk, then they have to remove the dead silkworm parents, boil the cocoons of the silkworm larvae, and then start this whole process over again. Because they produce so little silk per worm, it takes over 5,000 silkworms to make a pure silk kimono!



“Bombyx Mori.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2018,