Catalpa Worms

Actually, they’re caterpillars. Fishermen call them “catalpa worms.” Last night I found the first signs of catalpa worms this sumer — two fallen, dried leaves with an empty eggs in a mass on each one.

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The catalpa tree stands 35 or so feet tall in our backyard.

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The catalpa sphinx moths lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves.

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The newly-hatched caterpillars feed on the underside of the leaves.

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They then travel in groups in search for their next meal.

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They always feed on the underside of the leaves, to stay more hidden from predators.

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Obviously, they change as they grow.

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The caterpillars molt five times before they’re fully grown.

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Even the full-grown caterpillars feed on the underside of the leaves.

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These are cocoons of a parasitic wasp. The earlier stages of the wasp feed inside the caterpillar.

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This predator appeared to be an immature bug of some kind.

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 Caterpillars ate almost all the leaves in August of 2008!!!! The tree grew naturally the next year.

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Then I lucked out that year and found a caterpillar under another catalpa that grew in the shrub border of our backyard. It was working its way under the plant litter on the ground.

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I placed the caterpillar with plant debris in a bug container so I could rear it out to see the chrysalis

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and the adult catalpa sphinx moth.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. What a great series of photos to illustrate the life stages. Does the tree get hit with this much damage every year?

    Reply

    • Thanks. The tree has only had that much damage once. These pictures were taken in 2008. We’ve had very few caterpillars the last couple of years for some reason.

      Reply

  2. Nice sequence of shots! It can be a rough world for those caterpillars.

    Reply

    • Thanks. I’ve found very few caterpillars the last few years. The pics in blog were taken in 08. I did find 2 fallen dried leaves with empty egg masses, but have yet to find any caterpillars.

      Reply

  3. Fascinating!

    Reply

  4. I haven’t seen anything like them on the catalpas here. At least, not yet.

    Reply

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