Oak Silkworms

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Oak Silkworms


moths of the genus Antheraea of the family Saturniidae, raised for their silk, which is used to make tussah. The Chinese oak silkworm (A. pernyi) has been bred for more than 250 years. It was introduced into the USSR in 1937. The caterpillars, fed on various species of oak, usually produce two generations each year. They pupate in cocoons in special compartments at a temperature of 2°C. In the spring large moths (wingspan, 10.5-11.5 cm) emerge from the cocoons. The Chinese oak silkworm and the Japanese oak silkworm (A. yamamai), which lives in forests, are bred in Japan. The average wingspan of the Japanese oak silkworm is 15.6 cm. It hibernates in the egg stage on branches. The subspecies A. yamamai ussuriensis (wing-span, 10-13 cm) is found in the USSR in the Amur and southern Primor’e regions. This subspecies feeds on Mongolian oak leaves and has one generation per year. Its eggs lie on leaves underneath snow during the winter.

The cocoons of the oak silkworm are not fully unwound and are used primarily in spinning. The silk thread of the Chinese oak silkworm is coarser than that of the Asiatic silkworm and is very durable. Breeding Chinese oak silkworms has several shortcomings. The cocoons have only an average of 8 to 9 percent silk content and are difficult to unwind. The caterpillars require high-quality food and their feeding is very labor-consuming. Because of these economic disadvantages, oak silkworms are no longer raised in the USSR.


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Miliaev, A. P., and B. M. Sidorchenko.Dubovyi shelkopriad. Moscow, 1947.
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Sinitskii, N. N., S. M. Gershenzon, P. O. Sit’ko, and E. V. Karlash. Razvedenie dubovogo shelkopriada. Kiev, 1952.
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Miliaev, A. P.Spravochnik po shelkovodstvu. Moscow, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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