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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
Silkworm Care Guidelines -- May 2023 (update)

***** Silkworm Care Tips from Coastal Silkworms: https://www.coastalsilkworms.com/silkworm-care

IF you live on USA's WEST COAST, order from California's Coastal Silkworms West Coast facility for faster shipping.

AWESOME silkworm moth photo!
This little guy looks like a mini-dragon!​
Credit goes to Heather Gilchrist -- June 2021​
(click to enlarge)​
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Hilde's photos -- August 2002 & March 2003:

cleosilkworm1 (1).jpg cleosilkworm2 (1).jpg cleosilkworm3.jpg LGnSMT1 (1).jpg LGnSM (1).jpg LGnSMTT2.jpg
(click to enlarge)​

Click the actual thread: https://www.geckosunlimited.com/community/threads/62837/

Hilde comments:
"Silkworms are great, and if you really want to save money, raise them yourself.

"It's easy enough to let some worms pupate. Once the moths emerge from the cocoons, just let them hang out together to mate. Males die shortly after mating, females live about a week, just long enough to lay eggs. I would suggest setting aside a dozen, or a few more, just to improve the odds of getting enough of each sex."

On the 8 March 2013 Hilde adds:
"I wouldn't feed them as a sole food, variety is always best. Silkworms are quite nutritious, and unlike typical insect and larvae we use, they're a good source of Vitamin A (retinol).

"In the case of Cleo, the cleft palate leo, her diet was about 50 - 60% silkworms, but there was a limit to what she could safely eat. She thrived on that diet, never showed signs of problems. I wouldn't say to go ahead and feed mostly silkworms, but from my experience in this case, it worked out okay."

"The other leos get them once every 3 or 4 feedings in summer, less in winter, and never seemed to get tired of them."

Thanks, Hilde, for the photos of your leos catching silkies & for your tips.

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Source unknown:
"I recommend purchasing the silkworms separately from the food. The worms in the cup do not do as well if ordered online & packaged together.

This pre-made food should be stored in the refrigerator!

Silkworms are high in calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, sodium, vitamins B1, B2, & B3, & Vitamin A (retinol). The fat is about 10 which is a very good level.

Rotate other feeders with crickets for your leo. You could order 100 small silkworms & the pre-made food. The food in the cups will mold unless they are kept in a cool room. Crickets & silkworms will be great together. When you are running out of silkworms, order some very small hornworms, & so on. At this same time order a very small amount of butterworms. Butterworms can be stored a while & fed off 1-2 intermittently.

IF you buy 100 small silkworms together, they have time to mature. Then you'll have them longer than 2-3 weeks. Grab a few small silkworms with tongs to feed your leo. The small silkworms may be too small for your gecko to notice 1 by 1."

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Thanks to kvnsu . . . . . . December 2014: "How I kept my silkworms alive"

3 things to get:

  • 16 quart tub or any tub (bigger the better)
  • gutter guard (from your local hardware store): I used the 20 ft vinyl roll Gutter guard from Lowe's for 3 bucks.
  • mulberry chow or leaves
Poke air holes in your tub. Basically tape the gutter guard in the tubs slightly elevated. Then place all the worms & food in there. Then their poop goes through the holes. The less you touch/open the silkworm tub the better. KEEP THINGS SANITARY!! I cleaned the poop about 3-4 days to a week depending on the amount of poop & refilled the food every 3-4 days as well.

Disclaimer: This is the way I did it successfully. Obviously people have varying opinions. Use the method that accommodates you the best. :)

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Thanks to hmarie186 . . . . . . December 2014:
"I don't keep lids on mine any more and am done doing the fresh mulberry leaves. I lost 400 to flacherie late this summer. It was devastating & an expensive loss. Feeding minimal food so it does not have a chance to ferment/spoil & mix with feces also helps."

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Thanks to majahawt . . . . . . December 2014:
"Next time we get them, we'll immediately move them over to the large tub. I'm gonna cut a piece of mesh to keep in there so that they're not sitting right in their poo."

Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#2---GU Cymmie's Silkworm Recommendations -- April 2015

Click this thread: https://www.geckosunlimited.com/community/threads/78265/

Post #5
"Silkworms are easy to rear and feed. They only eat mulberry trees or special chow made for them. I have started growing a mulberry tree just for my silks. However, I am still largely reliant on chow especially during the cold seasons when the mulberries lose their leaves. The moths do not eat and the eggs hatch best when there is some warmth on them. Either an incubator or a heat lamp next to their container will work."

Post #10
"It depends on how you breed them or the strain of silkworm you are working with. There are some hybrid silkworms that are stronger at resisting diseases/bacteria and eventually death than the regular white or zebra.

But most do better with an incubator through their young stages. I usually set it at 78-80 degrees. It's through the first three stages if I remember correctly, about a week, that they need the incubator. Mulberry leaves are always the best food to use with them compared to the chow, because they mold less.

I keep my silks in small Rubbermaid tubs with crafting mesh on the bottom so that they can be suspended above the feces they produce. All you have to do is feed them once they are passed the incubator stage and they will spin cocoons. They do best with something to spin their cocoon against. I use paper towel rolls cut down. After about 24-48 hours the cocoon can be moved. Before then it's too fragile to move.

After that I move all the cocoons to a larger Rubbermaid container for the moths to come out and mate. Remember both Rubbermaids have holes cut in the top with mesh hot glued over it. I don't mess with the moths at all. Just let them mate and sometimes feed them off when they get to the end of their life span. I feed them to my chameleon though. I always have paper towel down underneath the moths, so that when the females lay their eggs they lay it on the paper towel.

After they lay eggs, I let them turn grey (means they are fertile) and put them in the fridge for diapause until they are ready to use. I put them in a sandwhich baggie and cut out squares around the egg batches so it's not as cumbersome."

Post #14
"I use them whenever I need to. When I am ready to use a square, I place it in a petri dish (a deli cup would also would work) and then let them incubate. They will usually hatch within a week or two.

Be careful if you are using chow with the little tiny stages, I shave it with a cheese shredder over the least populated area. That way if the shavings do accidentally crush some of the worms it's not as big of a loss.

Don't be discouraged if you lose a few batches the first time. It takes a while to get it down pat. Took me about 4-5 tries just to get a decent amount to survive. Remember to wash your hands with disinfectant soap every time you are about to feed or handle the young ones. Otherwise you could pass on bacteria that will cause disease.

I definitely know how expensive they are! :D With my panther cham I went through 200 a month easy AT least when he was a baby."
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#3---Coastal Silkworms . . . . . . Care Information -- January 2023 (update)

***** Click: https://www.coastalsilkworms.com/

"Silkworms must be kept in a warm, dry environment. For optimal growth keep your silkworm's 70-85F temperature rage. Upon arrival, open any containers that contain silkworms. Dump the Silkworms into the bottom of a plastic box, or one of our silkworm keepers. Our plastic silkworm keepers are reusable and easy to clean.

If you ordered powdered mulberry food, prepare it upon arrival. Follow the directions on the food, or see cooking instructions below. Orders will be given food to eat during transit. You should feed all silkworms ASAP upon arrival. If you ordered pre-made mulberry food, it's "ready-to-feed". If you‘re using fresh mulberry leaves be sure to wash them before feeding. With the mulberry food, grate a thin layer over the top of the silkworms; we prefer the silkworm food grater for feeding out the silkworm food. Silkworms will immediately crawl up and start to feed on the food. With fresh mulberry leaves cover the silkworms with two layers of leaves.

Silkworms should be fed daily. If you're looking for rapid growth, feed twice a day. If you're looking to slow growth down, feed once every other day. Silkworms eat a lot of food, be prepared to have on hand food for the worms you have coming, with the correct amount of silkworm food or mulberry leaves when in season.

It's important to wash your hands before handling the silkworms and the mulberry food. Once you remove a silkworm from the colony do not place them back into the colony. This will increase your chances of introducing bacteria to your silkworm colony. We recommend you discarding any uneaten silkworms that are left in your animal's cage, if any! Over cleaning is a bad thing, and will lead to a high die off. We recommend keeping handling of the silkworms to a minimum to decrease your chances of a die off. For this reason we recommend you have a spare silkworm keeper to transfer the silkworms to when cleaning time comes. You should not clean out the silkworm keepers more then once a week, doing so will increase your chance of a high die off. In general we have found it best to keep all handling of the silkworms to a minimum at the same time keeping things clean."
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