Virtual museum of Canada
Collections from Storage: A Visit to our Hidden Treasures

Silk Moth

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The Silkworm is the caterpillar of the Mulberry-feeding Silk Moth, Bombyx mori, an insect of the order Lepidoptera. This species of butterfly, Bombyx mori, does not exist in the wild. It is, in fact, a species created in captivity so that the silk from the cocoon woven by the caterpillar or larva could be harvested.

The history of sericulture or silk culture began in China about 4,500 years ago. It reached the stage of industrialization in Europe in the 19th century, but suffered a major decline in the 20th century with the arrival of modern fibres, notably nylon.

Interestingly, the museum where this chest of silkworms was kept was built in a building that once housed a factory for making silk stockings, owned by Julius Kayser & Co!

Small cabinet showing the Silk Moth and different steps in the culture of silks.

Credits : Musée de la nature et des sciences, Sherbrooke

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