A man sent in a query regarding the planting of catawba worm trees for purposes of harvesting catawba worms to use as fish bait. His question particularly focused whether or not it was possible to dig up an existing catawba tree and re-plant it elsewhere, and if the tree would still attract catawba worms.
First and foremost, our reader stated that the catawba tree (more commonly referred to as the catalpa tree) he wished to dig up was on the side of a road. For that reason, it is vital that we ask our reader to check that the act of doing so would be legal. If the tree is on private-property, or on protected land, then digging up the tree could be punishable by law, and we want to ensure that none of our readers get into legal trouble.
Secondly, to answer our reader’s question frankly, yes, it is possible to transplant a catalpa tree. However, there are methods one has to apply to successfully transplant such a tree. According to a ‘tree care adviser’ at the University of Minnesota, one has to root prune the tree for at least one entire season, and consistently make sure the tree is watered during that time. As we are no experts on the ins and outs of gardening and planting trees, we will leave the two links to texts on tree transplantation provided by this adviser below. So far as whether or not re-planting the tree elsewhere will still attract catalpa worms (which are caterpillars of the sphinx moth), so long as the tree is not planted anywhere other than their natural habitat, which is constitutes most of the eastern United States, then we do not see why there should be a problem in attracting these caterpillars, who primarily host this tree.
To conclude, it is possible to transplant a catalpa tree and still attract the worms that host them, though it is a bit of a process. However, as previously mentioned, if our reader is planning on digging up any trees from anywhere, he should first make sure to check the legality of what he is about to do, so that he can avoid any legal trouble.