A catalpa caterpillar is the larval form of the Catalpa Sphinx Moth ( Ceratomia catalpae). Moths and butterflies undergo complete metamorphosis, or 4 stages in their life cycle; egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The Catalpa tree is the only host plant.
The adult moth over winters in the pupa stage. They appear in Tennessee from mid April until early May. The adult is a rather bland looking brownish grey. The proboscis is short in the adult, and they can not feed. The adults live 3 to 5 days.
Eggs are laid underneath the catalpa leaf in a cluster. Anywhere from 100 to 1,000 eggs are laid at a time. The eggs hatch in 3 to 5 days. Because of the short life cycle of the adult, the eggs appear to be laid on the first Catalpa leaf the adult comes to.
The caterpillar or tobby worm is the larval stage of the moth. This is the stage when all of the feeding occurs. The caterpillar will molt 5 times. After the 5th molt the caterpillar leaves the tree and wonders until it finds a suitable place to pupate.
The caterpillar buries into the soil and pupates. The chrysalis is the type of pupa the Sphinx moth has. Then, when conditions are right ( temperature and moisture) the adult appears and starts the cycle over.
Several generations occur during the summer with the life cycle taking 5-6 weeks to complete. In Tennessee we have 3 to 4 generations, depending on the season.
The caterpillars, or tobby worms are fabulous fish bait. Any fresh water game fish will hit them when displayed correctly. The attraction of the worm is the scent it gives off when placed on a hook, or cut in half. That is why they are just as effective after they have been frozen as when they are alive.
The chrysalis are available for folks wanting to get their own Catalpa tree “ inoculated” with the caterpillars. This stage is preferred over transplanting the caterpillar, as I have already taken the hit from the predators, and moving the caterpillars stresses them. They come with planting instructions.
Content copyright . CLIFFCREEKCATALPA.COM. All rights reserved.