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Bombyx mori's preferred food is white mulberry leaves, but it may also eat the leaves of any other mulberry tree (e.g., Morus rubra or Morus nigra) as well as the Osage Orange. Silkworm larvae grow to about 4 cm long, and then build a cocoon in which to pupate. This cocoon is collected and boiled to harvest the 300-900 meter long single silk thread from which it is made. Sometimes the boiled pupae are then eaten (called ground cucumber). Like most adults in the family Bombycidae, B. mori moths have reduced mouth parts so do not feed. Male and female moths are similarly colored, but where males have a wingspan of 3–5 cm, females have vestigial wings and much larger bodies, holding hundreds of eggs.
Bombyx mori has been used as a model organism in biological and genetic studies, and its full genome (~432 Mb) was sequenced and published in 2008.