The Diagrams Below Show the Life Cycle of the Silkworm

The diagrams below show the life cycle of the silkworm and the stages in the production of silk cloth.

This essay question is from Cambridge IELTS 6 Test 3 Writing Task 1.

Life cycle of the silkworm

the diagrams below show the life cycle of the silkworm

Sample Essay

The diagrams display the life cycle of the silkworm and how silkworm cocoons are used to make silk cloth.

Overall, there are four main stages in the life cycle — egg, larva, cocoon, and adult moth — and six in silk cloth production — selecting, boiling, unwinding, twisting, weaving, and dyeing.

The life cycle begins when female moths lay eggs. After around 10 days, the eggs hatch, and silkworm larvae emerge. The larvae feed on mulberry leaves for about 4 to 6 weeks and then start to create protective layers called cocoons by spinning a single strand of silk around themselves. It takes them approximately 3 to 8 days to produce enough silk to surround their whole body. They stay in the cocoons for about 16 days to transform into adult moths. After the female moths lay eggs, the life cycle begins again.

To produce silk cloth, silkworm cocoons are first selected. Those found suitable for production are subsequently boiled in water before being unwound into strands of silk that measure about 300 to 900 meters long. From here, they are twisted to form thicker silk threads. Some of the threads go straight to the dyeing process, while the others are woven into cloth, which is then dyed.

202 Words

Silk Thread

  • The more common meaning of “thread” is something that is twisted from more than one fiber. Silk is a fiber. Individual silk fibers are very very thin. You cannot use single silk fibers for weaving or anything else. They have to be twisted into a thread to be usable. Many, many silk fibers join together to form a thread. The thing in Step 3 is not a thread of silk. It would be much more accurate to refer to it as a strand of silk. Many strands of silk are twisted together to form a thread of silk, as shown in Step 4. And then silk threads are woven into cloth, as shown in Step 5. Yes, IELTS is a language test, not a knowledge test. But it’s very hard to write an accurate description of the last four steps without knowing the difference between “thread” and “strand”.
production of silk cloth
  • The same is true of Stage 4 in the life cycle. That is just one single strand of silk, not a thread of silk. As I explained, the more common meaning of a thread is something that is twisted from more than one fiber.
silk strand

Cloth, Not Clothes

Be careful that the second diagram shows the production of silk cloth, not silk clothes. Here, “cloth” is an uncountable noun, meaning a type of woven material, not the clothes we wear.

How to Write the Overview

Please don’t say that the life cycle of the silkworm is a natural process and the production of silk cloth is a man-made process. There’s no need to mention ‘natural’ and ‘man-made.’ It’s obvious. If it’s a life cycle, it’s natural. If it’s a production process, it’s man-made. Will you say that the life cycle of a human being is a natural process and that a sentence you write is a human-written sentence?
Also, it’s not enough to summarize only the first and last steps. Please read the examiner’s comment on page 133 of Cambridge IELTS 16.
  • Overall, the life cycle is a natural process that consists of four main stages, beginning with the laying of eggs and ending with adult moths emerging from cocoons. The production of silk cloth is a man-made process that comprises six main steps, beginning with selecting silkworm cocoons and ending with dyeing silk cloth.
  • Overall, there are four main stages in the life cycle — egg, larva, cocoon, and adult moth — and six in silk cloth production—selecting, boiling, unwinding, twisting, weaving, and dyeing.

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