The Catalpa worm, also known as the catawba worm, is actually the larva of the sphinx moth. Reaching up to 3 inches in length, the black and green striped caterpillar infests catalpa trees and is a much desired bait among fishermen.

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Catalpa worms make excellent bait

Catalpa Worm Lifecycle

The catalpa sphinx pupae emerge from overwintering soil in spring. The moths mate and lay 100 to 1,000 eggs under catalpa leaves on which the newly hatched caterpillars feed and skeletonize. Their total life-cycle is some six weeks with three to four generations occurring within a season.

Fishing Bait

During spring and summer the worms may be picked directly from catalpa leaves or you may shake the trees and collect the fallen caterpillars. Anglers thread the worms directly onto a fishing hook or turn a sliced worm inside out to expose the worm's scent to attract fish.

Storing Catalpa Worms

To preserve catalpa worms, anglers store them in containers in the fridge. For longer-term storage, the worms can be layered in cornmeal or sawdust within a suitable container and placed in a freezer for later thawing.