Insects That Make Cocoons

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Cocoons are a kind of casing which certain insects spin around themselves for protection at a stage in the developmental part of their life cycles. Cocoons are made of silk or some sort of fibrous material. These insects might encase themselves in cocoons to protect themselves from harsh environmental conditions or from predators.

Bees

  • The queen bee in a bee hive usually lays her eggs in separate cells inside the honeycomb. When the eggs hatch into larvae, the worker bees go to the individual cells and feed the larvae with royal jelly. The worker bees secrete the royal jelly from the glands on their heads and the larvae feed on it for about three days before the workers eventually feed them with diluted honey and pollen. The female larvae which have been chosen to become queen bees are fed royal jelly for six days to enable them to grow bigger. The larva then spins a cocoon around itself and matures into the pupa, a stage that takes about 13 days, depending on the type of bee the larva will eventually become. Once the bee is ready to emerge from the cocoon, it will eat its way through the cocoon of royal jelly.

Silkmoth

  • The larva or caterpillar of the silkmoth produces a cocoon. The silkmoth typically lay eggs which take about 14 days to hatch into larvae. The larvae molt four times before they enter the pupal stage. At the pupal stage, the larvae enclose themselves within a cocoon that is made out of raw silk produced from hardened saliva. The function of this cocoon is to provide the larva with an extra layer of protection as it enters this vulnerable pupal stage. Silkworms are important economic insects because they are a major source of silk. They are usually bred and allowed to survive until after they finish spinning their silk. After this, they are usually boiled together with their cocoons to prevent them from secreting proteolytic enzymes which make a hole in the cocoon to help them exit.

Butterfly

  • The butterfly goes through several stages in its life cycle. When ready to start undergoing metamorphosis, the caterpillar spins a cocoon or a chrysalis where it will remain in hibernation for several days or months, depending on the kind of butterfly. The chrysalis of butterflies from the Nymphalidae and Satyridae families are suspended from a silk pad which has abdominal hooks while Sulphurs and Swallowtail butterflies are suspended from their midsection by a silk girdle.

Flea

  • Fleas go through a four-stage life cycle starting from the egg to the adult. When the flea larva enters the pupal stage, it spins a cocoon which is usually ovoid in shape and about 5 mm in length. The cocoon is made of a type of sticky silk material and it derives its color from its environment. As such, if the cocoon is on a green grass, it will imitate the color in order to camouflage its presence.

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