Catawba Worm

The Catawba worm is the larva of the sphinx moth. This black and yellow caterpillar infests the catalpa tree and feeds off of the tree leaves. It is considered a pest mainly because the catalpa tree is popular for it’s magnificent wood that is used for fine cabinetry. The catalpa tree belongs to the family Bignoniceae. It is classified as Catalpa bignonioides.

“Catalpa Tree” is the common name of a tree of the bignonia family. The species is cultivated as an ornamental shade tree, growing to up to 40 feet tall (12 m). Native to the United States, the catalpa tree has silver-gray bark, widely spread branches, and large, pale-green, heart-shaped leaves. The catalpa tree flowers are white, tinged, and dotted with violet or purple. Long, beanlike pods called “Indian beans,” that sometimes hang on the limbs all winter, succeed them. The seeds are winged. Catalpa wood, even in its rawest form, is light and fine and useful in cabinetwork.

ATTENTION: GET PARASITE HELP NOW! At All About Worms we get a lot of questions about skin parasites, blood parasites, and intestinal parasites in humans. Because we can't diagnose you, we have put together this list of doctors and labs who understand and specialize in dealing with parasites in humans! That resource is HERE

Also called “Catalpa” worms, the Catawba worm has both friends and enemies. Lovers of the catalpa tree may employ several methods to destroy these “pests” while fishermen will plant catalpa trees specifically to attract Catawba worms. Fishermen prize these worms as fish bait due to their tough skin and juicy bodies. Catawba worms can even be frozen for fish bait and used at a later time. The Catawba worm is considered excellent bait for catfish. In addition to their usefulness to fishermen, Catawba worms are prized for their attractiveness in many places across the U.S., such as Georgia. While some larvae are black with yellow stripes running down the sides, others are white with black splotches. Catawba worms also have a major distinctive feature – it’s tail. The Catawba worm has a tail-like horn on its rear end.

Catalpa tree lovers prefer to avoid an infestation at any cost or extinguish it, but it is believed that while the Catawba worm can defoliate the catalpa tree up to three times each summer, there appears to be no major consequences to the tree.

An infested catalpa tree can have hundreds, if not thousands of larvae. In fact, if one were to stand under a catalpa tree filled with Catawba worms, it would be like standing in a drizzling rain, except the “rain” would be a steady drizzle of falling frass or rather, caterpillar poop.

No Paywall Here!
All About Worms is and always has been a free resource. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or make you give us your email address, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to pay our research authors, and to run and maintain the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep All About Worms free?
Click for amount options
Other Amount:

Once the Catawba worm has fed to capacity, it drops from the tree and pupates in the soil below. The following spring, the Catawba worm will emerge as a hummingbird moth — the catalpa sphinx moth. The moth isn’t quite as colorful or unique as the larva. They are dull gray and nocturnal, so chances are you will never actually see one.

If you are convinced that the Catawba worm is ruining your catalpa tree, there are several ways to get rid of them. Preventative measures include insecticides such as Ortho Grub-B-Gon Max, Merit, Arena, Mach2, and Season-Long Grub Control. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is also effective. Bt is a live microorganism that kills certain insects. It is used to kill unwelcome insects in forests, agriculture, and urban areas. Bt and other insecticides may be purchased online or at a variety of home and garden retailers.

Author: The Top Worm

6 thoughts on “Catawba Worm

  1. I used to go fishing with Mother in Arkansas. She put the worms in cornmeal and froze them. I hope this helps

  2. I found this amazing as my grandpa was a avid fisherman and we always loved the worms. He had a way of collecting them and he would put them in something and either in the freezer or fridge and get them out to use every fishing trip. I was actually looking for info on how to do this as the bluebirds are eating them off my trees faster than we can keep up with. If anyone out there knows what it was my grandpa did would they drop me a line? Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *