Natural silk is a very valuable and sought-after material. It stands out in the textile industry for its delicate touch, unmatched drape and characteristic shine, in addition to its thermal, hypoallergenic and absorbent properties.
Everything seems to indicate that silk is the perfect fabric and every time we see a celebrity wearing it, in general, our desire to spend a lot of money on one of these luxurious garments increases. Will silk be the best among all fabrics or will there be better and, above all, more ethical options? Draw your own conclusions after reading this revealing article by Green Ecologist on the silk-producing animals and discover where this silk is obtained.
Silk is a natural fiber of animal origin used to make yarns and fabrics. Fabric made from silk fibers is also known as silk and is highly sought after in the world. textile industry because it serves as a raw material in the elaboration of expensive garments. Among the virtues of silk, its shine, lightness, softness, freshness, elegance and ability to favor the silhouette and allow perspiration stand out.
The silk fiber is obtained in its great majority from the worms of the species Bombyx mori, although there are some other species of insects, arachnids and mollusks which are also exploited for this purpose.
Butterflies or silkworms (Bombyx mori) are domesticated seriferous insects that come from wild silkworms (Bombyx tangerine). They feed almost exclusively on white mulberry leaves (Morus alba) and have lost their ability to fly during the process of domestication and selective breeding. Its complete metamorphosis lasts a maximum of six weeks. The larvae hatch from the egg in spring with an approximate length of 2 millimeters and after their last molt (just before entering the chrysalis phase), they reach 8 centimeters in length.
Silkworms are native to the Asian continent, where they have been exploited for millennia for their silk. Currently they are bred all over the world and although there are numerous modern techniques that speed up the breeding and extraction process, many sericulturists continue to use ancient artisanal techniques that, despite being much more laborious, generate higher quality fibers.
The process of obtaining silk from the silkworm it is not at all simple and for many, it is even unethical and controversial. Some of the reasons:
Learn more about What are insects and their characteristics and the Classification of insects, like these butterflies, by reading these articles. We also advise you to read this other article to better understand the metamorphosis and cycle of butterflies: The life cycle of a butterfly: stages and images.
The silk spiders o gold silk spiders are poisonous arachnids of the genus Nephila. They live in America, Asia, Africa and Oceania and their name is due to the fact that they weave their webs with gold colored silk that they themselves produce.
This silk has such a striking natural color and luster that it resembles gold. Although it is very resistant, elastic and, in addition, biodegradable, its commercialization is not profitable. Its producers assure that for their manufacture, the spiders are not harmed and are returned to their habitat after the silk harvesting process is completed.
Here you can learn more about Arachnids: characteristics, types and examples.
The nacraPinna nobilis) It is a species of bivalve mollusk endemic to the Mediterranean Sea in critical danger of extinction. To its byssus we owe the sea silk (also known as sea gold or mermaid silk), an extremely fine, light and expensive yellowish or brownish fabric. The sea silk It is considered by many to be the most exclusive fabric in the world.
Learn more about Mollusks: characteristics, types and examples in this other article.
The silk of animal origin, of course, it is a non-vegan material. Many organizations and animal movements have denounced the animal abuse in the process to obtain silk and they constantly recommend the use of other similar fabrics that do not involve animal exploitation. There are two excellent reasons not to use silk:
If you are a fan of silk and you love its appearance and texture, don't worry, there are many alternative fabrics to silk, which do not involve animal abuse and bear an impressive resemblance to traditional silk. Some of them are:
If you want to read more articles similar to Silk-producing animals, we recommend that you enter our category of Animal Curiosities.