How Do Silkworms Make Their Silk?
Silkworms are the caterpillars of the silk moth. They use the silk they make for their cocoons. Silkworms are fed leaves of the mulberry tree. Each silkworm has, beneath its mouth, glands that secrete a liquid that hardens into a silk thread.
When they are fully grown, the silkworms spin cocoons around their bodies. About 4,000 years ago, the Chinese learned how to unravel cocoons made by silkworms and weave the silk into cloth.
To obtain the silk, workers put the cocoons into hot water to loosen the thread. About 1,000 feet of thread can be obtained from one cocoon.
Women would unwind the cocoons and then combine six or so fibers into silk threads. The threads are woven into cloth. The cloth is then pounded to make it softer.