The Truth About Silk

Silk is the fiber that silkworms weave to make cocoons. The so-called “silkworm” is actually a domesticated insect who, in nature, goes through the same stages of metamorphosis – egg, larval, pupal and adult – that all moths do. Silk is derived from the cocoons of larvae, so most of the insects raised by the industry don’t live past the pupal stage, as they are steamed or gassed alive inside their cocoons.


Approximately 3,000 silkworms are killed to make every pound of silk. While worms can’t show their distress in ways that humans easily recognize, such as screaming, anyone who has ever seen earthworms startled when their dark homes are uncovered must acknowledge that worms are sensitive; they produce endorphins and have a physical response to pain.

Humane alternatives to silk—including nylon, milkweed seed pod fibers, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments, polyester, and rayon—are easy to find and usually less expensive, too.