Very, very close up

Chris got me a camera for Christmas. He gave it to me early, because we’re going to be going on a trip, and this way I can figure out some of its astounding powers. It’s TINY, but it can do amazing things!

Freshly-hatched Bombyx caterpillars.

Keep in mind that those eggs are the size of mustard seeds, and the caterpillars are about 3 mm. long. Look at the empty (white) eggs – you can see the bite marks where the caterpillars chewed their way out!

0 replies
  1. cgronlund
    cgronlund says:

    That’s some mighty impressive macro; I’ve seen higher end cameras that can’t pull off that kind of close-up.

    Very, very cool!

    While is one of those people who get icked out by caterpillars and creepy crawlies, the silk thing fascinates me and I’m glad you’re able to share it. Neat stuff!

  2. admin
    admin says:

    It’s a Vivitar 8300S. I hadn’t thought that such a small camera would be able to get this kind of macro – but because of the high pixel count (8MP+) you can take a relatively big shot, and then crop down to tiny detail.

  3. admin
    admin says:

    Yup. These are my “seed crop” – in addition to demonstrating nicely for the folks at the State Fair, they also provide me with good quality eggs for Spring. Often the eggs from March/April are a little tired by the following Spring; I get better hatch rates if I raise a small late crop to get fresh eggs.

  4. illuviel
    illuviel says:

    Excellent pic, and they’re Bombyx babies, too.

    I was directed to your ‘journal by my sister, , avid knitter and reader of knitting communities.

    When I nattered on about my newest obsession — silk and the possibility of raising oak silkworms (and being inspirational in this endeavor), she informed me you were on lj, then sent your account name.

    I had to laugh, as I’ve seen you in mutual friends’ journals, unconnected to silkwork. It was an interesting arabesque in which the world became even more interesting and a little smaller.

  5. admin
    admin says:


    Are you wanting to raise the semi-domesticated Oak Tasar, or the wild American Polyphemus? I’m mostly done with my Polyphemus season for this year, but should have lots again in Spring.

    Also – if you’re interested, I run a Yahoo email group for silkmoth and silkworm folks.

  6. eahhh
    eahhh says:

    I thought that was pea gravel when I saw the cropped version! Goodness gracious! I can’t wait to see the photos you take of moths now… and I already enjoyed your old ones. Tell your lovely guy thanks from us, too!

  7. illuviel
    illuviel says:

    I am most interested in the Polyphemus, as they’re native … and the idea of oak ecology garments is a very happymaking thought in a mythic living way. I’m enamored with the idea of oakmoth + spider silk = Mirkwood silk! (Yes, I am a complete geek.) I have worked with small amounts of banana spider silk in the past, and have been harboring a completely impractical desire for spidersilk stockings for years, but haven’t worked with silkworms.

    As I’ve not yet raised any ‘pillars, I’d like to know your opinion on a good species to start with. My predominate hedge species is cherry laurel (and they’re welcome to all of it), though there are rain trees, live oaks, citrus, elder, willow and other species on-property and close.

    (I’ll be looking through catherders’ archives, if that has already been answered there.)

  8. admin
    admin says:

    The easiest to raise by far is Bombyx, but you don’t list mulberry, so they’re out. If you have ailanthus, Eri silkworms (Samia ricini) are the second-easiest to raise. Polyphemus probably come in third or so – they aren’t particularly finicky, although they do need space as they get larger.

    If you get enough oak silk to make a garment, it will be a LOT of work. I’ve gotten enough to make an amulet pouch, and it was pretty labor-intensive. I can’t imagine raising enough for a shirt or something. But, I know it’s done with other species in Asia, so it’s definitely possible.

    What area do you live in? With citrus, I’m guessing Florida or California – you may have additional tropical options, with your climate.

  9. rexenne
    rexenne says:


    Zowie! They look like giants now! That’s on my wishlist for myself before the new year…a new camera! I prefer Canon. Always had good experiences with Canon. I was drooling over the Powershot 540…droooooooooooooooooooooool! My poor camera I have now is so old (powershot A10) and it used 4 AA’s, while the newer ones like the one I am wanting only uses 2 AA’s. Target is selling them for $50 off till the new year…wow!

  10. admin
    admin says:

    Re: ZOWIE!

    I’m actually sending this one back, and getting a Canon A630. I was impressed with the images coming out of the little Vivitar, but even Vivitar doesn’t have the replacement batteries in stock! We’re going to be on a trip where I want to be able to take as many pix as I want, without having to worry about plugging in the camera to charge.

    The A630 also has the option of adding on extra macro lenses – I’m fascinated with that possibility!

  11. illuviel
    illuviel says:

    Apologies for not replying to this until now; it’s been languishing in my drafts folder (why do I *have* a drafts folder for livejournal comments? I’m going to have to have a talk with myself.)

    I live in west-ish central Florida and am interested in sericulture.

    I’ve been following along with the catherders list and have done a little outside reading. Based on what I’ve read, I think Eri silkworms would be the best species for me to start with, as they’re natively fed on castor, and many scrub lots and edges in my neighborhood have that in abundance.

    At this time, I’m more interested in spinning than in reeling, but eventually would like to experiment with a variety of treatments of the fiber.

    Though I have wildly impractical dreams of spider+oak silk stockings (I’d have to raid Mirkwood to get enough silk for those, but a girl can dream), an oak silk amulet pouch as you’ve done would be absolutely wonderful. The mythic tie-ins of material and function would make me a happy, happy person indeed.

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