Patience and the mulberry leaf become a silk gown.

Pests, Plagues & Politics
Lecture 5
Insect Products
Silk - Lac – Paper & Ink
Key Points
Silk - Lac - Paper & Ink
• Sericulture by moths
– What species of insect?
– What is the process?
• Lac by scale insects
– What is it? “Who” makes it?
• Paper & Ink by wasps
The Polyphemus moth of the
Giant Silkworm moth
• Order LEPIDOPTERA (scale wing)
– Family: Bombycidae
– Few species are native to the U.S.
– The “commercialized” silkworm moth is
•Bombyx mori [a native of Asia]
• The propagation of silkworm moths & their
host plants is termed
• Chinese in origin
– ca. 4,000 BP
• To Japan ca. 2,100 BP
• To Europe ca. 1,500 BP
– via Constantinople (Istanbul) by Christian
• To the U.S. with the early colonists
– and a failure.
The Process Starts with adult moths
Female moth lays eggs on paper
Early instar moth larvae feeding on mulberry leaves
Mature moth larvae just about done eating
Mature larvae spin cocoons
Filature of cocoons
The end product
- a resin usually produced in thin flaky layers,
or shells and used in making varnish, phonographic
records, insulating materials, et al.”
“Lac” comes from insects…
Lac Insects
• The word “LAC” derives from the Sanskrit
word “laksah”, similar to the Hindi word
“lakh” which means:
– one hundred thousand
• Order HOMOPTERA (same or equal wing)
– family COCCIDAE - the Scale Insects
– 2,000 species worldwide
– phytophagous life style (“sap tappers”)
Scales of Economic Importance
• The LAC scale
– Laccifer lacca
• The Cactus Scale
– from which we get Cochineal dye
– Coccus cacti (Gr. = “berry”)
• The Kermes scale
– from which we get Kermes dye
– Coccus ilicis
from the cactus scale
• Sessile, soft-bodied plant
• Lives and feeds on Opuntia
cactus. Insect and Opuntia are
native to S. America and
• Large, wingless females and
smaller winged males.
• Produce carminic acid as a
defense mechanism.
Cochineal Extract and Carmine
Origins: Maya and Aztec
Carminic acid extracted from the body/eggs of females.
Cochineal extract—raw coloring made from crushed insects.
Carmine—purified coloring made by boiling the crushed
insects with solvents.
• Colors food, makeup, cloth, wool, paint and ink.
Cochineal Economics
• 155,000 cochineal insects to make a kg of cochineal dye.
• Today, Peru, Canary Islands, Chile, and Mexico produce
cochineal dye.
• France, Japan, and Italy are the largest importers.
• Market price 2005: between 50 and 80 USD per kg.
– Increased significantly since then
The Insect
Paper “Makers”
• The Paper Wasps
– Order HYMENOPTERA (membrane wing)
– family Vespidae
• the social paper wasps = yellow jackets & hornets
– Wasp derived from the Anglo-Saxon word
Waesp which means “to weave”
– The paper wasps have been inhabiting earth
for about 70,000,000 years.
The paper Nest
A Short History of Paper
• Believed to be Chinese in origin
– 1,800 year BP; Chinese Turkestan
• Paper technology in the 9th century Arab
• To Moorish Spain in 1150
– to Italy in 1250
– to Germany in 1300
• England: 1590; Sir John Spielman receives
a royal license to produce paper
• Quality inks produced from Oak Galls
• What’s a Gall?
– A physical response/growth by a plant
following the laying of an insect egg(s)
into the plant’s tissue
• The Ink Oak Gall
– a wasp of the genus
Cynips gallae-tinctoriae
• Gall: Anglo-Saxon word
meaning bitterness, irritation
or offensive
The wasp
Aleppo Gall
The gall
The final
Oak Apple Galls
(by Oregon’s own gall wasp)
Key Points
Silk - Lac - Paper & Ink
• Sericulture by moths
– What species of insect?
– What is the process?
• Lac by scale insects
– What is it? “Who” makes it?
• Paper & Ink by wasps
Back to
Instar – n. a developmental stage of arthropods, such as insects,
between each molt until sexual maturity is reached.
Filature – n. The process of drawing fibres into threads, especially
the process of reeling raw silk from cocoons.

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