The domesticated silkworms that we work with have been captive bred and domesticated for at least three thousand (3,000) years. As a result, these silkworms are entirely dependent upon man and can not survive in the wild.
These silkworms demand constant attention and intervention in order to survive and produce. The domesticated silkworm lives exclusively on mulberry leaves harvested by man or on processed mulberry cake. They can not survive on any other kind of food. In fact, man has been such a dedicated servant to these silkworms for so many thousands of generations that the silkworm caterpillars need to have their food cut up and served to them.
Furthermore, 3,000 years of selective breeding has resulted in a silkworm which produces a large cocoon, but which is unfit for survival without human intervention. Too much body weight restricts the silkworm’s mobility even from crawling relatively short distances.
The silkworm moths which we work with are too fat, and their wing spans are much too small for them to fly. In fact, they can not even lift themselves off a Petri dish. These flightless moths are helpless outside of a controlled environment.
Even though the caterpillars and moths are fragile and helpless, the silkworms lead what appears to be very happy, tranquil lives of indulgence. They consume the processed mulberry leaves which are continuously served to them. They live in a temperature controlled environment and are treated most gently. They reward us for this service by spinning large cocoons.
A Note on Genetic Engineering of the Domesticated Silkworm: The spider silk genetic sequences which we work with relate only to specific silk proteins. No genetic sequences from a spider, other than silk protein sequences, are used.