Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bio-Art: Tara Galanti's Flying Silk Moths.

As I said waaayyy back when in my silkworm entry, silkworms make cattle look good in terms of how well they can survive in the wild. They can't fly, are really, really slow, and do not even eat without human assistance. The most they can do is occasionally interbreed with their wild counterparts. It's a pretty sad life, especially since so many silkworms die young.

Well, except the silkworms in Tera Galanti's "Wings" project.  The silk moths there are capable of flying farther than, say, the moths found in China. They have been deliberately bred to fly instead of produce silk. Although their flight is not monarch butterfly-level inspiring, it is still very cool to see some of the moths retaining wild characteristics after generations of breeding without it.

Tera Galanti originally began breeding silkworms to get over her fear of moths. After a moth distracted her into a traffic accident, she eventually decided to confront her fear in the form of breeding the silk moth- the world's only thoroughly domesticated moth. Even before her project,  she noticed that a few of her moths were capable of fluttering. Flying moths were the next logical step.

The moths were selectively bred by first isolating the cocoons. Then, she made sure that the females were all high up, guaranteeing that only the males who could get that high would make babies. She also put them in cute little setups like this. Feel free to click around there, by the way.

The next step in the project would naturally be releasing the moths outside. Where would such moths go after being unable to fly for so long? Who knows! The question is the same for domestic chickens bred to fly, and, in an extreme case, Heck aurochs. How would nature react to suddenly having these old species back? (Note: The Indian Jungle Fowl is darn close to a chicken, and it's not dead yet.) We don't know, but it would be fun to find out.

1 comment:

  1. Where do I get flying silk moths in NSW Australia