Sericulture: Check Rearing Process, Types, Moriculture - Embibe
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  • Written By Sagarika Swamy
  • Last Modified 24-06-2022
  • Written By Sagarika Swamy
  • Last Modified 24-06-2022

Sericulture: Check Rearing, Reeling, Moriculture and Types

Sericulture: Sericulture is the cultivation of silkworms and the extraction of silk from them. Domestic silk moth caterpillars (also known as ‘Bombyx mori’) are the most often utilised silkworm species in sericulture. Other silkworm species (such as Eri, Muga, and Tasar) are also raised for the manufacture of ‘wild silks.’

Sericulture process is the practice of raising silkworms and extracting silk from them. Mulberry leaf farming, silkworm breeding to convert the leaves to cocoons, cocoon reeling to obtain silk thread, and weaving to convert the yarn to clothes are all part of the process. Many countries’ domestic industries rely heavily on sericulture. India and China are the world’s biggest silk manufacturers. These two countries’ combined silk output accounts for more than 60% of global production. Read this article to know more about sericulture and moriculture and sericulture.

Sericulture Introduction

Sericulture is the rearing of silkworms (i.e., production of cocoons) for commercial production of silk. Though a number of species are found producing silk only a few species are used for sericulture.

The word Sericulture is derived from the Greek ‘Sericos’ meaning ‘silk’ and the English ‘culture’ meaning ‘rearing’. It is a multidisciplinary programme.

Importance of Sericulture

  1. Sericulture is an agro based rural industry with large labour involvement and higher income generation potential.
  2. It is suitable for small and marginal farmers also.
  3. Silk is an expensive commodity used mostly by the affluent society, transfer of money from rich to poor is ensured.
  4. Sericulture provides self-employment opportunities to the educated unemployed youth in varied sectors.
  5. Many by-products are obtained from sericulture activities.
  6. Mulberry and silkworm have pharmaceutical values.
  7. Silkworm is used as a tool for genetic and biotechnological studies.
  8. Silkworm gives products that are used as human medicines.
  9. All the sericultural activities are village-based and hence prevent migration of people from rural to urban areas in search of jobs.

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Types of Silkworm

There are mulberry and non-mulberry silkworms. Besides this \(400\) to \(500\) varieties of non-mulberry silkworms are reared by tribals of Asia and Africa. India is the only country to produce all four types of silk, i.e., Mulberry, Tasar, Eri and Muga.

The following are the different types of silkworms.

  1. Mulberry Silkworm – Bombyx mori is a domesticated silkworm, feeds on mulberry leaves belonging to the Moraceae family. The worms produce long, continuous silk filament which is white or light yellow in colour. The silk has good commercial value.
  2. Tasar Silkworm – Cocoons are big in size and weigh about \(7-14\) grams with a peduncle and reeled to get \(1000-1200\) meters of fiber. Cocoons are yellow, light yellow, purple, brown, gray in color. These silkworms are found in Godavari river belt of Andhra Pradesh. The silk is highly valued for its quality.
    Tasar silkworms are of three types.
    a. Antheraea mylitta –  Feeds on Terminalia tomentosa and reared in India.
    b. Antheraea proylei –  Feeds on Oak leaves and reared in India.
    c. Antheraea yamamai –  Feeds on  Arjun, Sal, Oak, and Plum, reared in Japan.
  3. Eri Silkworm – It produces white or brick-red Silk. The cocoons are very weak and pediculate. It is found in Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Manipur, Odisha and Tripura.
  4. Muga Silkworm – The scientific name of Muga Silkworm is Antheraea assamensis, feeds on Som and Soalu leaves to produce Golden – yellow silk thread which is very strong and attractive.

There are many other types of silks:

Name of silkDescription
Anape SilkwormAnaphe is a polyphagous Insect and feeds on \(22\) varieties of food plants. It is a univoltine silkworm that is green in colour.
Fagara SilkwormThe Fagara cocoons which are light-brown in colour measuring about \({\text{6}}\,{\text{cm}}\) long. They are less important since the silk is not commercially exploitable. This silk is obtained from Attacus atlas moth.
Coan SilkwormCoan silk fibre is secreted by the larvae of Pachypasa atus. The cocoons are white in colour.
Cricula SilkwormThese Polyphagous insects feed on ten types of plants. It is found in the Kishanganj area of Bihar on mango trees during August – December.
Mussel SilkwormThe fibre is called byssus thread, which is brown in colour, strong in quality and keeps the animal to anchor itself to a rock or any surface of the habitat. The byssus is combed and then spun into silk popularly known as fish-wool. This is obtained from the bivalve Pinna squamosa.
Spider SilkwormThe spider silk is a non-insect variety. The soft and fine spider silk is noted for its strength and elasticity. Commercial production is obtained from Madagascan species.

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Sericulture Process

The production of silk or the process of sericulture take place in three following steps:

  • 1. Moriculture
  • 2. Rearing of Silkworm
  • 3. Silk Reeling

After all three processes, the silk filaments are woven together to form fine threads.

Moriculture

Cultivation of mulberry plants, whose leaves are used as food for silkworms. They can be grown by three different methods:

  • 1. Seed cultivation
  • 2. Root-grafting
  • 3. Stem grafting
Process/Methods of Sericulture
  1. Three species of Mulberry plants are cultivated in India – Morus alba, Morus indica and Morus nigra.
  2. Morus alba is the most preferred one because it grows more easily in loam type soil.
  3. Neutral \({\text{pH}}\) is ideal for healthy growth of mulberry plants.
  4. The mulberry leaves can be taken up as a feed for silkworm after harvesting for the next cocoon stage.

Rearing of Silkworm

Process/Methods of Sericulture
Process/Methods of Sericulture
Process/Methods of Sericulture
  1. The silkworm variety is to be selected depending on the climatic condition of the area, leaf quality, type of rearing house and rearing equipment.
  2. The rearing of silkworms begins with the laying of eggs by female silk moths.
  3. One single female silk moth produces \(300-500\) eggs.
  4. The eggs are collected and disinfected with the help of a \(2\% \) formalin solution.
  5. The eggs are kept in favourable conditions under suitable temperature. The eggs are warmed so that the young organism called larvae break the shell and come out of the egg.
  6. Normally, this is done at the time when mulberry trees bear fresh leaves. The young organism that comes out is called caterpillar or silkworm.
  7. Silkworms feed on the mulberry leaves and grow in size. Along with mulberry leaves the silkworms are kept in clean bamboo trays for about \(25-30\) days.
  8. After a period of time, the cocoon is formed with a silk fibre and the caterpillar develops into a silk moth.

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Silk Reeling

Silk is a natural fibre where two independent fibroins called brins are completely covered with sericin. After the rearing of silkworm the next process followed is silk reeling:

Silk Reeling:
  1. The cocoons are collected and boiled or kept under the hot sun or exposed to steam, to separate the silk fibres. This process is called stifling.
  2. The process of separating silk threads from the cocoon of the silkworm is called reeling.
  3. The harvesting of silk from these cocoons is the final stage of sericulture.
  4. The filament of threads are removed by using different machines to form reels
  5. This spinning of silk fibres produces silk yarn or silk thread. By weaving the yarn the silk fabric is produced.
  6. The silk clothes can be made finally by using silk fabric.

Diagram of Sericulture Process

Diagram of Sericulture Process

What are the Challenges Faced in Sericulture Farming?

There are many diseases caused due to sericulture farming:

  1. Pebrine or pepper disease by protozoan Nosema bombycis.
  2. Parasite infects eggs and is, therefore, transmitted to the next generation. It kills caterpillars.
  3. Flacherie is an infectious viral disease marked by body flaccidity and digestive disorders.
  4. Muscaridine is caused by a fungus, Spicaria or Botrytis.
  5. Grasserie is caused by a virus.
  6. Viral infections in the larvae may result in the shrinkage of their bodies. They may also start giving off an unpleasant odour.
  7. Silk cannot be reeled from these damaged cocoons.

Additional Information – What is Silk?

Silk is obtained from silkworms. It is a natural protein fibre. The major protein of silk is fibroin, which is produced by certain silkworm larvae to form cocoons. The other protein of natural silk is fibroin.

Summary

Silk is obtained from silkworms. They are reared for commercial application, a process called sericulture. Many by-products are obtained from sericulture activities. In India, Morus alba is predominantly used to obtain the best quality silk. Cocoons of silkworms are used to obtain silk thread. Sericulture provides self-employment opportunities to the educated unemployed youth in varied sectors.

PRACTICE QUESTIONS RELATED TO SERICULTURE

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Sericulture

Q.1. How to start/process sericulture farming?
Ans: Sericulture farming is followed by three significant steps:
1. Moriculture
2. Silkworm rearing
3. Silk reeling 

Q.2. What is sericulture meaning ?
Ans: Sericulture is the rearing of silkworms (i.e., production of cocoons) for commercial production of silk.

Q.3. What is sericulture in animals?
Ans: The raising of silkworms for the production of raw materials is called sericulture in animals.

Q.4. Name four types of silkworm used in India?
Ans: 1. Mulberry Silkworm
2. Tasar Silkworm
3. Eri Silkworm
4. Muga Silkworm 

Q.5. Why is sericulture not eco-friendly?
Ans: Sericulture is not considered an eco-friendly practice because during sericulture silk worms are boiled to get silk fibres. Vapours emitted from the boiling cocoon release toxic fumes that pollute the atmosphere and contribute to respiratory problems.

Now that you are provided all the necessary information on Sericulture and we hope this detailed article on Sericulture is helpful to you. If you have any queries, ping us through the comment box below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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