Berkeley Home Biology Lab: Silkworm Sex


While the rest of the world reacted to today’s Supreme Court health care decision, we were witnessing the miracle of insect sex here in North Berkeley. To wit: Kate has been raising silkworms as part of her science teaching. We had a little plastic storage container that has become home to about a dozen silkworm cocoons, and today, silkworm moths emerged from two of them. Amazingly, or perhaps because these creatures have evolved to give themselves the best chance of procreating (or both), the two emergees were a male and female who immediately found each other and went to work mating. We’ll have some exciting video later (the picture above catches me shooting Kate recording the event with her iPad), but I have to say how impressive it is to see how quickly, purposefully and efficiently these pale, flightless creatures attended to their business. The male, the smaller of the two moths, fumbled around a little amid bouts of love grappling, but then hooked up (literally, it looks like) with his female friend (the female is at left in the photo below). Now, about an hour later, they’re quiet but still connected.