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Silk worms are actually a type of caterpillar that spins silk cocoons around themselves after they turn approximately 1 month old.The silk that is used in forming these cocoons is actually hardened silkworm saliva that has been secreted from the silk worm's mouth. Within 2–3 days, the caterpillar spins about 1 mile of filament and is completely encased in a cocoon. The silk farmers then kill most caterpillars by heat, leaving some to metamorphose into moths to breed the next generation of caterpillars. Harvested cocoons are then soaked in boiling water to soften the sericin holding the silk fibers together in a cocoon shape. The fibers are then unwound to produce a continuous thread.
As the process of harvesting the silk from the cocoon kills the larvae, sericulture has been criticized by animal welfare and rights activists. Mohandas Gandhi was critical of silk production based on the Ahimsa philosophy "not to hurt any living thing". This led to Gandhi's promotion of cotton spinning machines.
Spotted on Jul 1, 2009
Submitted on Mar 20, 2013