Chinese Oak Silkmoth Caterpillar (Antheraea pernyi, Saturniidae)
The Chinese (Oak) Tussah Moth (or “Chinese Tasar Moth”) is originally from southern China but as it has been used for tussah silk (a wild silk) production, they have been distributed more widely across subtropical and tropical Asia.
The “pupils” of the four eyes on the wings are translucent and scaleless so held up against a light, they appear like bullet holes.
Tussah silk is the best-known and most widely used of all the wild silks. Moths have been raised outdoors on oak trees in China for more than two millennia. The natural color of the silk is a pinkish beige but depends on the climate and soil. In the 1970s and 1980s China expanded tussah sericulture to most of its provinces, but has since abandoned these efforts in the South. Tussah is now primarily grown in the Northeast, in the provinces of Shandong, Liaoning, and Hebei. It was introduced into Japan in 1877 where it was cultivated locally on a small scale in the 20th century. Tussah silk is also raised in both Koreas.
Because it is so easy to rear, Antheraea pernyi has been used in laboratories around the world to study diapause, endocrinology, and other aspects of insect physiology.
The reeled silk has a smooth sheen like domestic silk, but the rougher spun silk is highly favored by designers of high-end fashion to make women’s and men’s suits, blazers, dresses, shirts, scarves, and other garments and accessories. Sometimes tussah is blended with cotton or synthetic fibres. Tussah silk floss is also used in quilting to make duvets.
On a more technical note, Antheraea pernyi silk has more similar sequences to spider dragline silk than the silk from its domestic counterpart, Bombyx mori. Spider dragline silk exhibits exceptional strength, toughness, and resistance to mechanical compression, properties that rival those of synthetic high-performance fibres such as Kevlar. Consequently, there is a wide spread interest in mimicking natural silks in order to produce new classes of high-performance materials and tussah silk has potential as a resource for biospinning spider dragline silk.
by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu’er, Yunnan, China
See more Chinese butterflies and moths, pupae and their larvae on my Flickr site HERE…..
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