Modern Silkworm Farming in Ohio

Historical Article Series April 12, 2020 > Modern Silkworm Farming in Ohio

From the Mansfield Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. 41, No. 2, April 2005 

Since my experiment with raising silkworms on artificial food, I’ve been in further touch with my supply source. This modern silkworm farm is located in Ohio and raises silkworms year-round as food for reptiles. They hatch about 20,000 silkworms a week and raise them in large plastic tubs. Once a day the silkworms are dumped into strainers to remove their droppings and any leftover food. The tubs are cleaned and then the silkworms are returned to their sterile home. At all times they are handled with gloves to prevent any infection. 

Silkworms feeding on chow
Silkworms feeding on chow composed of dehydrated mulberry leaves

At this farm, the silkworms are fed exclusively on a diet of powdered mulberry leaves that are reconstituted with water. The chow is crumbled over the top of the silkworms and the amount and number of feedings is adjusted according to their size. This powdered version of mulberry leaves makes it possible to raise silkworms year-round. 

In my experience in using the artificial food, I found that the resulting silkworms were smaller and weaker than those that I’ve raised in the summer and fed with fresh mulberry leaves. They also produced smaller cocoons. This is apparently of no concern to these Ohio silkworm farmers. Their silkworms are all sold and EATEN before they can produce cocoons. Consequently they do not have a breeding program and purchase all their eggs from another source. 

This modern silkworm farm markets their product on their Web site (www.silkwormfarm.com) and on E-Bay. They supply feed for pet stores and reptile owners throughout the country. Oh, how things have changed since the early 1800’s when Mansfield had its heyday as America’s largest silk producer! 

Ann Galonska Museum Director 

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