Silkworms, like any other caterpillar, go through four basic stages of development: egg, larva, chrysalis or pupa, and imago or adult.
When the larva reaches a certain stage of development, it weaves its characteristic cocoon around itself, inside which the process of metamorphosis takes place, transforming the caterpillar into a butterfly. The butterfly will exit the cocoon and proceed to mate and lay eggs, thus initiating a new reproductive cycle.
However, in the case of worms exploited for silk production, this natural process does not reach completion.
To obtain the silk, the cocoons are placed in boiling water, causing the slow and painful death of the animal housed inside in its pupal stage.
The reason for this procedure is to prevent the butterfly, once formed, from breaking and degrading the cocoon as it exits, thereby ruining the quality of the silk.
The amount of usable silk in each cocoon is small, so the manufacture of a single scarf or tie has a toll of hundreds of small lives. Only a limited number of pupae are allowed to complete their chrysalis and the resulting moths constitute the sperm bank for egg production, thus enabling the breeding of future silk caterpillar generations.
Consequently, silk production is not without suffering and death. Like any other animal victim of exploitation, silkworms are capable of feeling and have the desire to live.