Spinning a yarn from the wild
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CTA. 1997. Spinning a yarn from the wild. Spore 71. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48854
Most of the world's silk is produced in Asia and the Far East with a few countries in Africa developing a small industry using introduced Asian silk moths. But Africa has it's own wild silk moths, although up until now, the cocoons of these wild...
Most of the world's silk is produced in Asia and the Far East with a few countries in Africa developing a small industry using introduced Asian silk moths. But Africa has it's own wild silk moths, although up until now, the cocoons of these wild moths have not been harvested sustain ably. Until recently many people were unaware of the potential of wild African silk moths and as a result many silkworms were killed and eaten before they had had time to make their cocoons. The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) has been looking into ways of sustain ably exploiting the potential of wild silk moths. One problem has been that these moths are not easy to domesticate so ICIPE has set up a system of partial domestication. This involves taking cocoons from the wild and once the moths emerge, they are encouraged to lay eggs in the laboratory. When the eggs have hatched, the larvae are returned to the wild and within 52-53 days spin their cocoons. Local communities are encouraged to, harvest the cocoons but on condition that 25% of the cocoons are left to provide sufficient adult moths to produce the next breeding generation. ICIPE has developed a simple device to unreel the harvested silk thread. This ensures that local communities obtain a good quality thread that can either be twisted for cloth making or sold as raw silk. Five to six kilos of cocoons will yield one kilo of raw silk worth the equivalent of US$90 which is a valuable income for any household. [caption to illustration] Indigenous African silkmoth ICIPE PO Box 30772, Nairobi, KENYA