14747--Tray Full of Squirming Worms. The Silent Toilers Who Clothe the
Nation in Silk. Japan.

When the silkworms are hatched they are less than an eighth of an inch long; when full grown they are nearly three inches. The weight of 1,000 Japanese white-spinners just hatched was 0.414 gram. When ready to spin, thirty four days and ten hours after hatching, they weighed 2,220.99 grams—an increase of nearly 5,400 fold. One silkworm fully developed would balance the scale against 5,364.7 fresh from the egg. The worm has sixteen legs.

The silkworm exists in four states—egg, larva or grub, chrysalis and moth. In the larva stage the worm has four molting seasons, giving it five “ages” between the egg and the cocoon. As each molt approaches the grub ceases to eat, grows somewhat lighter in color, fastens itself to some object with its legs, raises its head and the fore part of its body, and falls into a sleep for a day or longer, then it eats again and grows rapidly; it is most voracious after the third and fourth molts. Three-fourths of their food is devoured between the fourth casting and the chrysalis state; at this time their growth is marvelous.

Throughout their existence silkworms must be guarded with unceasing care and unfailing skill. An hour’s neglect may ruin a season’s work.

From the collection of the Manchester Historical Society.