From blouses to sarongs, suits to ties, and lingerie to pajamas, silk is still widely used by the textile industry, finding its way into sheets and pillowcases as well as handkerchiefs and headscarves. What some people may not be aware of, however, are the less-obvious places silk shows up, including parachutes, bicycle tire casing, cigar bands, replacement heart valves, and sutures for surgery.
We tend to associate silk with the silkworm due to the fact that, in its production, silkworms are killed by the hundreds of millions every year. However, silk is a fiber naturally produced by a number of different insects, including spiders, whose silk reserves have also been exploited in medical and military experiments.
Although synthetic silks made from lyocell (a type of cellulose fiber) can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing, sadly, the archaic practice of using silk from insects remains as common as ever.