What Happened to Catalpa Worms? (And Where to Find Them!)

What Happened to Catalpa Worms blog banner

Have you been wondering why you can’t find these tiny little bait worms or where to find these catalpa worms? Well, then you are in the right place. 

The cigar tree is popularly known as the catalpa tree, as it is the primary source of food for the catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar, which is also known as the catalpa worm. 

These trees are native to the United States and have these worms all over them in the summer season. 

You might be thinking, why does this caterpillar feed off this tree specifically, or can it cause any severe damage to the tree, and how to prevent this? 

Or where exactly you can find these worms, then you are at the right place. In this blog, we will cover everything you should know about catalpa worms. 

So without any further ado, let’s dive right into it. 

What are Catalpa Worms? 

The catalpa worms are larvae that feed off the tree’s (catalpa) leaves, as this helps them to transform into fully grown catalpa sphinx moths. 

As a result, surprisingly enough, these catalpa worms can strip almost all the leaves off of these trees in just one summer. 

However, these worms generally don’t cause any severe harm to the trees. The healthy trees usually recover from the damage to their leaves in the next season or the one after.

Moreover, to prevent any kind of permanent damage to the trees, there are various kinds of natural predators. 

Some of them include parasitic/braconid wasps which inhabit these trees.

The Catalpa worms have an interesting pattern over them. The end segment of this worm body has a remarkable black horn. 

Along with it, these caterpillars have a blackhead and dark stripes fading down their rear when fully grown. 

The rest of the catalpa worm is covered in white or faded yellow, with each segment having a dark black spot or stripes in an upright manner. 

In addition, you can find black stripes that can be fragmented into discrete patches at times on their backs. 

These worms spend the winter in the ground, almost three inches below it.  By spring, these worms grow into a moth. 

Moreover, these worms can multiply extremely fast, as a female caterpillar can lay more than 900 eggs, which hatches easily within 10-14 days.  

You can generally find these worms on the catalpa trees during the summers. 

Further, these catalpa worms have over five generations per year, depending on where you find them. 

The quantitative number for determining the generations depends on the duration of summer that particular year.

These are pretty common in the United States, so it is not hard to spot these catalpa worms. 

Can These Catalpa Worms Do Any Damage to the Tree? 

You might be thinking that these worms feeding on the catalpa trees can cause severe damage to them, so we assure you that you are not alone. 

As you might guess, laying 1,000 eggs each time will lead to a large swarm of worms on the trees, and in just one summer!

Although the catalpa worm sounds like it can do a lot of damage most of the time, if the tree has poor soil and high ground, it is already prone to a few infections. 

But because of the proactivity of the parasites, infections don’t usually happen in the same year. Meaning that catalpa worms rarely harm trees as they only feed on them intermittently, not every year. 

So if you are thinking of planting this tree and are worried about these catalpa worms causing harm to your tree, you have nothing to worry about as they do not cause severe damage to the foliage of the tree. 

Although, the aesthetic of the tree will change. 

Besides, the trees where these catalpa worms sustain themselves can just regrow their leaves back and will be in excellent condition. 

Even after this, if you want to take more measures to control these catalpa worms, then you can just handpick them from the trees and use them as fishing bait. 

Many grow these trees just for the worms they can use for fishing. 

If you want to go to extreme measures, you can opt for chemical pesticides, but they really don’t cause enough harm to warrant that, in our opinion. 

Where Can You Find The Catalpa Worms? 

The best place to find a catalpa worm is on the catalpa tree, as this is the only tree these worms feed on, so no better place to look than these trees. 

The cigar tree is mainly used as an ornamental plant for a garden. 

However, they are believed to be native only to a small area of the midwestern United States, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. 


When it’s all said and done, we can conclude that catalpa worms can be easily found on these catalpa or cigar trees. 

These worms deplete the leaves on the trees by feeding on them for the whole summer. 

Although these worms do not cause any severe damage to the growth of the trees, they still can cause infection if the tree is poorly maintained. 

However, the damaged leaves grow back by the following summer, and the good news is that these worms do not feed on the same tree every year, so it gives time for the recovery of any damage. 

Moreover, this tree also has natural predators of these caterpillars, which help avoid excessive depletion of the tree. 

If you are looking to go fishing and need bait for it, these worms are perfect as they can also help you control them naturally if you just use them as fishing bait. 

The best place to find these worms is the catalpa tree, which you can even grow in your garden. 

In this handy guide, you found out all about these worms and where to find them. I hope you found this blog insightful.