Page images


during this age, the hatch from an ounce of eggs be doubled. If the worms come out of their requiring about fifty pounds the first day, and by torpor in a feeble state, with little appetite, esthe fourth one hundred and fifty, and double that pecially in the younger ages, cut the leaves for

the first feed or two with a sharp, clean knife, like shredded tobacco.

Spinning.—When ready to spin, which is eight or ten days after the fourth molt, the worms cease to eat, become restless and empty themselves, diminish in size, becoming transparent, beginning at the head. When any

of them are observed in this stage, give a amount the fifth, sixth, and seventh, after which light, fresh feed to bring forward the laggards. the quantity falls to about one hundred pounds And as soon as they begin to emit silky fibre; for the eighth day; but the quantity depends on take the frames (Fig. 2, that were used to holid the vigor of the worms, and the temperature. 'the young worms), tie together two-and-two,

During this last age the closest attention is bottom to top, set upright on their edges, A, A, necessary and the amount of labor is greatly. A, or B, B, B, with the slats of one opposite the increased. During the earlier ages a woman or intervals of the other, upon the platforms among half-grown child can attend to the worms, and a the worms. They will use these as ladders and man or boy in one or two hours, two or three crawl up between the slats to spin. Or instead times a day, can supply the leaves required for the of these, dry branching twigs, two or three feet worms from an ounce of eggs; and even during the last age, one person is sufficient in the cocoonery, and one to gather the leaves for the hatch of half a dozen ounces of eggs, or more, with the apparatus above described.

Molting.–When the time for their sleep approaches, the worms lose appetite, and raise their heads with a waving motion. When any of the worms of

MOTHS. a batch are seen in this state, give a light fresh feed to hurry up the tardy ones. | long, or broom-corn or weeds may be used, setting During their torpor they eat nothing. As soon them upright among the worms, and interlocking as their skin is shed, their activity and appetite then in arches above. If any of the worms fail return. This process is usually over in about to mount, remove them on the leaves or twigs to thirty hours. No food should be given until about which they are attached, lest they be soiled by all of the batch are through the molt and ready to droppings from above them. make an even start; or, if the least are much i The spinning is finished in three days. As the delayed, give a light feed to the first, and feed worms begin to spin, see that no two of them spin the last more copiously, and keep them warmer too near each other and make double cocoons,

which cannot be reeled.

To sum up, the points requiring special attention are:

1. Keeping the worms of a batch in a uniform CHRYSALIS.

state of progress, so that they will all molt

together. 2. Abundance of fresh, dry food, for a day or so, that they may overtake the first. except during the molt. 3. Plenty of room, This rule need not be observed after the fourth so that the worms shall not crowd each other. molt.

4. Plenty of fresh air. 5. Uniform temperaAfter molting, the space will generally need to ture, as nearly as practicable, and avoidance of



od shout the moleast ar

sudden changes. 6. The utmost cleanliness at there are whole months of idle time of women and all times.

children on an ordinary farm in a year, which Gathering and Sorting the Cocoons.-In eight or might be turned to good account in this way, it is ten days after the commencement of the spinning very desirable that the machinery and the process the cocoons are ready to gather. Separate the should be generally understood. frames or arches of brush carefully. Remove first Egg-raising.There is at present more profit all discolored and soft cocoons, keeping these sep-in raising eggs for the markets of France, Italy, arate from the firm, sound ones; if kept together, and this country than in making cocoons of reeled the latter would be discolored and depreciated silk. The female moth lays 300 to 400 eggs, and much in value. Tear off the loose (floss) silk an ounce will be produced by every 200 to 250 which envelopes the cocoon.

moths. The worms from an ounce of eggs, which, Choking, or Stifling the Chrysalides.-In 12 or as has been stated, will yield 100 to 125 pounds 15 days from the time the worm began to spin of cocoons, at $1.25 to $2 a pound, will produce the moth will issue from the cocoon, and in the 100 to 120 ounces of eggs at $3 to $5. But this process the strands of silk will be cut and spoiled. requires much care in raising and preserving, and To prevent this, the chrysalis must be killed more detailed instruction than can here be given; stified. This is commonly and best accomplished and moreover it requires a special selection of eggs by steaming ; but as that is troublesome, and diffi. to begin with. cult without proper appliances, in our climate the Markets and Prices — There is a good market stilling may usually be effected by exposing the in this country for reeled silk, at Patterson, New cocoons to the hot sunshine from 9 o'clock till 4, York, and elsewhere, and of cocoons and eggs the for two or three days. A longer time is needed Women's Silk Culture Association will take all if there is much air stirring, or the sunshine is not that are sent them, and pay regular market rates strong. And the process is surer if conducted in for the same. The price at present is $1.25 to a shallow box under glass, with a crevice for the $1 50 a pound for dry cocoons; it ranges from escape of moisture. In either case, guard against this up to $1.75 and $2; for pierced cocoons, $1 ants. The stilling should be attended to as soon per pound. as the cocoons are gathered, lest cloudy weather A gentleman in New York, however, has recently should intervene. In this case (and perhaps in invented a new process of reeling, of which there any case), the result may be reached by packing are great hopes, and which, if successful, will the cocoons in a barrel carefully lined with paper, revolutionize the silk industry of the world, and so as to be nearly air-tight, with alternate sprink establish this as one of the leading occupations of lings of camphor, roughly granulated in the hand, our people. This gentleman promises to erect a beginning with camphor on the bottom, then 3 machine as soon as enough cocoons are produced or 4 inches of cocoons, again camphor, and so on, to supply it. Information will be given from time finally closing the barrel for 2 or 3 days; using to time of the progress and success of this invenabout a pound of camphor to the barrel.

tion. After 3 or 4 days, spread the cocoons on boards or shelves to dry in an airy room or attic, stirring GENERAL INFORMATION.—THE SILK-WORM. frequently the first 2 or 3 days, and afterward 1. The Egg.–An ounce of eggs contains 40,000, occasionally, for about two months, when they and this number of worms will produce 100 to 120 will be thoroughly dry and may be packed for pounds of fresh cocoons (or one-third of that market. Guard must still be kept against rats and weight of dry). An ounce (or even a quarter of mice, ants, and smaller insects, which will pene- an ounce) is sufficient for a beginner, for an extrate the chrysalides and injure the silk. The latter periment. They are readily sent by mail. The may be expelled by a sprinkling of camphor or cost is about $5 an ounce. other insectifuge drugs, or by the bark of sassafras 1 2. Ages.—The silk caterpillar casts its skin four root, or chips of red cedar, tobacco-stems, etc. times, at intervals of 5, 4, 6, 6 and 8 days, after a

Reeling.This process cannot be readily under short sleep or rest; this change of skin is called stood without instruction with a reel or filature. molting, and the interval between two molts, an The price of the silk is doubled by reeling, and as age ; the life of a worm, from hatching to spinning,

is about thirty days, a few days more or less, ac fore, which will allow the freest circulation of air, cording to the decrease or increase of temperature from below, as well as on all sides, and the ready and supply of food.

removal of litter and stale leaves, will answer. On the approach of the sleep or torpor, the Perhaps the best appliance in use for this purpose

is that represented by the accompanying diagram, Fig. 1. For information about this improvement we are indebted to Mr. E. Fasnach. It has been recently adopted extensively in France, from the Italian silk culturists of a little province (Friou!) on the North Adriatic, near Trieste. To the floor and ceiling (or joists) are fastened a succession of parallel sets of five uprights, bars or sticks (which may be 1/2, 2, or 3 inches thick); two of these sets are represented as 'touching the floor at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. The uprights are about one foot apart in the sets, and the sets running the length of the room, about 5 feet apart, and the whole should be not less than two feet from the wall. The uprights have sloping pins or nails driven into them 472 or 5 inches apart. On these, as at A,

A, A, A, and C, C, C, C, are laid a series of five FIG. 1.

bars or sticks, and across these, little rods or

straight twigs; the first of these platforms may be worm ceases to eat and becomes motionless, with 5 or 6 inches from the floor, and the next, C, C, raised head.

C, C, say 2 or 3 feet above that, and so on as high Food.—The silk-worm eats and thrives on a as one chooses to go; but two are as many as can great variety of food; the leaves of the lettuce, be easily managed without steps. On these platcommon (or black) mulberry, the osage orange, forms are placed the papers or frames containing etc., but the white (often miscalled “English'') the young worms, up to the third (or fourth) age, muiberry furnishes the best silk.

and after that, the twigs or small branches of Room.-Any sort of house or room may be used mulberry leaves with the worms. Note that all as a cocoonery, for hatching and raising silk-worms, the timber of both room and apparatus must be provided it is well lighted, well aired, and can be seasoned. kept tolerably uniform in temperature by a stove; The papers containing the young worms may fire will be needed on cool nights and rainy days. Direct sunshine should be excluded, which may be done by tacking white paper or cloth over the sash on the sunny sides of the room. For a small crop, a room on the north side of the house is better, for avoiding excessive heat. Ventilation should be secured from the upper part of the room, to avoid direct drafts upon the worms. A close, hot air is injurious, and any sudden or great change of temperature. Cleanliness is very important. Rats and ants must be excluded, as they are very fond of the silk-worm larva. The odor of smoke and tobacco is fatal.

Apparatus.--Both room and apparatus should be laid on these platforms directly, but it is perbe arranged to secure, as nearly as may be, the haps better to use frames like that represented in same conditions which the worm finds on the Fig. 2. The bars A, A and B, B are three-quarters tree. Any frame or platform or structure, there- of an inch thick, the cross-slats or laths, A, B, are

[ocr errors]


FIG. 2.

half an inch thick, an inch (or less) wide, and can be lifted with the worms on it without an inch apart. It is better to make these frames huddling them. A good quality of merchants' two and a half feet by five, so that two of wrapping-paper will do. The perforations of the them will occupy, crosswise, one platform of size and distance apart shown in Fig. 3 may be Fig. 1.

made rapidly by a common belt-punch, by folding The only additional apparatus needed is per- the paper ten or a dozen thicknesses.

The Mulberry.—The white mulberry is easily propagated. It flourishes best in light sandy or gravelly soils. One full grown tree will yield 200 10 300 pounds of leaves. Two hundred trees may be planted on an acre of land. In three years they will yield, under fair conditions of soil and

cultivation, ten to twelve pounds of leaves each, FIG. 3.

or more than two thousand pounds to the acre.

Eighteen hundred pounds suffice for an ounce of forated paper, as seen in Fig. 3, and netting eggs; that is, will produce 100 to 120 pounds of (mosquito or other) about the size of the frames, cocoons. At seven or eight years the yield will for the younger stages of the worms. The paper be tenfold. Plants can be had at many of the should have some strength and stiffness, so that it nurseries, and cuttings almost anywhere.




[As a fact of no litile importance, and to which we reser taken to domesticate and cultivate it, it has with much pleasure, is the circumstance attending the dis-acquired many useful peculiarities which make it play of an excellent quality of silk exhibited at the last

more valuable. When compared with the wild of Pennsylvania State Fair, held in Philadelphia, at the Permanent Exhibition building, October, 1880. The silk was his species,

its species, the results of domestication can be raised by Miss Nellie Lincoln Rossiter, of Philadelphia, plainly seen. Its want of desire to escape when then but thirteen and a half years of age, and for which she well fed, its white color, and the moth having no received a diploma as a special premium. This young lady, power to fly, are some of the peculiarities unnow but sourteen years old, has made the rearing of silk-doubtedly to be attributed to cultivation. worms a thorough study, and her experience shows with

Many of your readers remember, or have been what success. Presuming that the views of Miss Nellie on the subject might be of interest to the readers of the told of, the great excitement in some parts of our MONTHLY, we kindly requested her to favor us with a brief country about silk-growing and morus multicaulis article on the subject. This she very promptly and cour. raising. This became such a gigantic speculation Icously complied with, and we have the pleasure of giving it that, when in a short time the bubble burst, many a place in our columns.—ED.]

who had invested their all in planting the trees, Of the many silk-producing worms found in and in their cultivation, with the expectation of America, the sericaria mori, or mulberry silk- making a fortune, were ruined. It had been preworm, is the one most sought after, on account dicted that the United States would become a of its uniting strength and fineness in its silk great silk-growing country, and this no doubt was in better proportions than any other of its partly the cause of the wild excitement of that species. During the hundreds of years it has time, resulting in disastrous failure.

Now in this country the raising of silk is i Miss Rossiter resides at 2824 Goldbeck Street, Philadel. phia, where she would be pleased to have the reader call

becoming a regular industry. In Nevada, Caliand see her silk-worms at work. It will afford her much

fornia, Louisiana, and many other States, the work pleasure to give any information required on the subject of is becoming one of prominence. I have this silk culture.

spring filled orders for eggs and worms from

Ohio, Indiana, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and unlike an ant,—and throwing out their silk, as other parts of the country where the people seem they do, from the time they leave the egg, it to be taking hold of the work in a very different fastens them to the dried leaves, which makes it manner from that of thirty-five or forty years difficult to remove them from the refuse, which it ago.

is necessary to do every day to insure good health; From the days of the colonies we have accounts and as handling is injurious, particularly when the of silk-raising in this country. It is reported that worms are so small, a camel's-hair brush can be this industry was thriving moderately in Virginia used to advantage in changing them. In what is in 1656, and that some “ loyal” persons sent to called cleaning or changing them, musquitoCharles the Second a "royal robe woven from netting is used for two or three weeks, which is silk raised in that colony.” It was also tried in laid over the worms, leaves and all, and fresh Georgia in 1732, and in 1759 “ten thousand leaves are sprinkled on them, when the worms pounds of silk were sent to England from Savan- will come up through the meshes to feed; aster nah and brought a large price." South Carolina which the refuse is thrown away. After that was not long in following the example of the other time, the worms becoming too large, all that is States, and Connecticut was the first Northern necessary is to sprinkle leaves over the worms, State to try what it could do, but we have no when they will soon cover them, and they can accounts of how it succeeded.

then be removed. From this time to the spinning, The difficulties that were encountered after the care must be taken in cleanliness, feeding, and subjection of Persia by Alexander the Great in proper temperature. introducing the secret of silk-raising are well | During its existence the worm changes its skin known. The emperor brought to Greece immense four or five times in regular periods. The time quantities of silks, believed to be its first intro between these molts is called an age, and is duction into that country. The Persians also usually divided as follows: 1st period, 5 to 6 supplied the Romans with silk until the exor-days; ad period, 4 to 5 days; 3d period, about 5 bitant prices asked for it by the merchants so days; 4th period, 5 to 6 days; 5th period, from angered one of the emperors that he determined 8 to 10 days, when spinning commences. When to get at the secret of raising it. After many molting is about to take place, the worm ceases devices to get some of the eggs, two pilgrims eating, fastens itself firmly by its hinder legs, concealed a few of them in the hollow part of erects its body and remains motionless for about their staffs, and also brought directions for feeding twelve hours, when it casts off its old skin ; during the worms and reeling the threads. In this way this time it should be undisturbed. When about silk was first introduced into Italy, now a great to molt, the worms become of a dirty yellow silk-growing country.

color, which must not be mistaken for sick ones, The silk-worm exists in four stages: the egg, which they somewhat resemble. In molting, the the larva or worm, the chrysalis, and the moth. new head is first freed from the old skin, which is It is composed of two distinct classes: the annual, gradually worked back until it is entirely cast off. or one-crop worm, and the bivoltin, or two-crop This process is repeated until the fourth or last worm. The first named gives its crop of silk, molt, when, after eight or ten days' feeding, it and the egg does not hatch until the following will be ready to spin. The spinning occupies spring; while the latter, in two weeks after the from eight to ten days, and if the silk of the formation of the cocoon by the egg of the first cocoons is needed for reeling, they must be baked crop (May to June), is reproduced, and raises its or stified in an oven, at a temperature of about second crop of silk in July and August. While | 200°, or they can be stifled or choked with dry there is little or no difference in the quality of the steam. This is to destroy the life of the moth silk produced by the two classes of these worms, which would otherwise cut its way out from the the addition of the second crop by the bivoltin cocoon and render it unfit for reeling. doubles its pecuniary value.

The cocoons from which the moth is allowed In raising a large number of silk-worms, the to cut its way out are called “pierced" cocoons, principal difficulty is encountered during the first which are sold among the waste silk, to be carded week of their life; they being so small,-not and spun. Each cocoon contains from 300 to

« PreviousContinue »