Sky Puppies and the Strange World of Domesticated Silk Moths

For generations, humans have domesticated silk moths, or Bombyx mori. Indeed, China has been breeding silkworms for silk for over 5,000 years. This luxurious fabric is prized the world over for its strength, softness and shimmering appearance.

The cocoon of the moth is made of the silk strands that are so sought after, and a single cocoon can have threads that stretch 300-900 meters in length.

The lifecycle of the silk moth is a complex one:

The eggs of the moth hatch in about 14 days, after which the larvae eat voraciously, preferring the leaves of the white mulberry.

After a full four molting stages, the larvae enters the pupal stage of life, creating a cocoon of silk around themselves, which is made by their salivary glands.  Eventually, the adult moth then emerges from the cocoon, reproduces, only to have the process start all over again.


The human process of raising, hatching, and gathering the silk cocoon from the moth is called sericulture, and it’s not without controversy, as the silk cocoons are boiled during this pupa stage, killing the silkworm inside.

Silk production, or sericulture, has been practiced in China for thousands of years.

The silkworm cocoon can have threads of raw silk up to 900 meters in length.


If the moths are allowed to reach adulthood, they emerge with a unique, charming appearance, with large antennae, and soft, furry appearance.   Their cute appearance has coined phrases like “sky puppies”, as they seem to have fur like a dog.

Their oversized eyes lend these moths an anthropomorphized appearance, and people even keep them as pets. The domesticated silk moths cannot fly, due to their heavy bodies and insufficient wings.

“Sky puppy” is one term that the domesticated silk moths have, due to their furry look.

They are indeed distinctive, and seem to have captured the imagination of many around the world, even outside of their silk production.

What do you make of this unusual creature?

Sources: Getty Images, Wikipedia, Pethelpful.