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Silkworms
10/1 – 11/30, 2018
By Dr. Gu Shi-hong

Liao Tzi-chun

Bombyx mori (Latin: silkworm of the mulberry tree), commonly called silkworm, is an insect that uses mulberry leaves as food. Silkworms belong to the order Lepidoptera and were domesticated in their native habitat of northern China from their wild cousin Bombyx mandarina, a cousin which still survives today. Archaeological evidence suggests that occurred about 3,500 BC.

The silkworm is an economically important insect, being primary producer of silk. Sericulture - the practice of breeding silkworms for the production of raw silk - is an agro based industry which involves rearing of silkworms and mulberry tree cultivation. The origin and history of sericulture is indeed very old. Studies have shown that China’s Yellow River Basin may be the birthplace of sericulture and legendary proof testify a clue that a Chinese Express Xi-Ling-Shi was at the root of the discovery of natural silk in the year 2640 B.C.

Silkworms are easy, fun and educational to grow in a classroom or at home. The life cycle of silkworms is an important lesson for children to establish friendship with insects. In this virtual exhibition “Silkworms” curated by Dr. Gu Shi-hong at the Museum’s Biology Department, visitors will gain a deep understanding about silkworms’ four stages of development – egg, larva, pupa and adult and their wild cousins, Bombyx mandarina. In addition to the life cycle of silkworms, visitors are able to learn about the mutants of silkworms, i.e. different markings of silkworms as well as different colors and shapes of silkworm cocoons. Also, they will able to take a look at the beautiful silk artifacts including dolls made of cocoons and double-sided embroidery of a cat. Anyway, “Silkworms” online exhibition offers people an opportunity to observe silkworms from a scientific point of view and in a new and engaging way.

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