Bombyx mori

Bombyx mori
Paired male (above), female (below)
Fifth instar silkmoth larvae
Scientific classification edit
B. mori
Binomial name
Bombyx mori
  • Phalaena mori Linnaeus, 1758
  • Bombyx arracanensis Moore & Hutton, 1862
  • Bombyx brunnea Grünberg, 1911
  • Bombyx croesi Moore & Hutton, 1862
  • Bombyx fortunatus Moore & Hutton, 1862
  • Bombyx meridionalis Wood-Mason, 1886
  • Bombyx sinensis Moore & Hutton, 1862
  • Bombyx textor Moore & Hutton, 1862
Silkworm (Bombyx mori)
Silkworms (Chinese characters).svg
"Silkworm" in seal script (top), Traditional (middle), and Simplified (bottom) Chinese characters
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Japanese name

The silkworm is the larva or caterpillar of the domestic silkmoth, Bombyx mori (Latin: "silkworm of the mulberry tree"). It is an economically important insect, being a primary producer of silk. A silkworm's preferred food is white mulberry leaves, though they may eat other mulberry species and even osage orange. Domestic silkmoths are closely dependent on humans for reproduction, as a result of millennia of selective breeding. Wild silkmoths are different from their domestic cousins as they have not been selectively bred; they are not as commercially viable in the production of silk.

Sericulture, the practice of breeding silkworms for the production of raw silk, has been under way for at least 5,000 years in China,[1] whence it spread to India, Korea, Japan, and the West. The silkworm was domesticated from the wild silkmoth Bombyx mandarina, which has a range from northern India to northern China, Korea, Japan, and the far eastern regions of Russia. The domesticated silkworm derives from Chinese rather than Japanese or Korean stock.[2][3]

Silkworms were unlikely to have been domestically bred before the Neolithic age. Before then, the tools to manufacture quantities of silk thread had not been developed. The domesticated B. mori and the wild B. mandarina can still breed and sometimes produce hybrids.[4]:342

Domestic silkmoths are very different from most members in the genus Bombyx; not only have they lost the ability to fly, but their color pigments are also lost.[5]


Mulberry silkworms can be categorized into three different but connected groups or types. The major groups of silkworms fall under the univoltine ("uni-"=one, "voltine"=brood frequency) and bivoltine categories. The univoltine breed is generally linked with the geographical area within greater Europe. The eggs of this type hibernate during winter due to the cold climate, and cross-fertilize only by spring, generating silk only once annually. The second type is called bivoltine and is normally found in China, Japan, and Korea. The breeding process of this type takes place twice annually, a feat made possible through the slightly warmer climates and the resulting two life cycles. The polyvoltine type of mulberry silkworm can only be found in the tropics. The eggs are laid by female moths and hatch within nine to 12 days, so the resulting type can have up to eight separate life cycles throughout the year.[6]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Sywurm
العربية: دودة القز
asturianu: Bombyx mori
azərbaycanca: Tut ipəkqurdu
বাংলা: তুঁত রেশম
Bân-lâm-gú: Niû-á
беларуская: Тутавы шаўкапрад
català: Cuc de seda
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Gusanos de seda
Deutsch: Seidenspinner
español: Bombyx mori
Esperanto: Silkraŭpo
euskara: Zeta-har
Gaeilge: Seiriceán
한국어: 누에나방
हिन्दी: रेशम कीट
hrvatski: Dudov svilac
Bahasa Indonesia: Ngengat sutra
interlingua: Verme de seta
íslenska: Silkiormur
italiano: Bombyx mori
қазақша: Жібеккөбелек
Latina: Bombyx
latviešu: Zīdtauriņš
lietuvių: Šilkverpis
magyar: Selyemlepke
Bahasa Melayu: Ulat sutera
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Chèng-gēng
Nederlands: Zijdevlinder
नेपाली: रेसम किरा
日本語: カイコ
Nordfriisk: Siisenspaner
norsk: Silkeorm
norsk nynorsk: Silkeorm
occitan: Manhan
português: Bicho-da-seda
Runa Simi: Murira pillpintu
sicilianu: Vermu dâ sita
Simple English: Silkworm
slovenčina: Priadka morušová
slovenščina: Sviloprejka
српски / srpski: Свилена буба
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Dudov svilac
Basa Sunda: Hileud sutra
svenska: Silkesfjäril
Türkçe: İpek böceği
Vahcuengh: Nonsei
Tiếng Việt: Tằm
粵語: 蠶蟲