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How to Grow and Harvest Catalpa Worms From Catalpa Trees

How to Grow and Harvest Catalpa Worms From Catalpa Trees. Catalpa trees are ornamental trees that grow naturally near swamps and rivers in the eastern United States. If you find a catalpa tree, you are likely to find many catalpa worms. Catalpa worms are considered a pest to gardeners and a friend to fishermen.


Plant trees in full sun. Use fertilizers that contain nitrogen and phosphorous. Adjust soil pH to 6.4 using calcium and magnesium applications.


Catalpa tree roots are highly poisonous. Protect catalpa seedlings from frost.

Grow and harvest catalpa worms and have a bountiful supply of fishing bait.

  1. Plant catalpa seeds in a garden area. Grow the catalpa seedlings for 1 to 2 years in the garden.

  2. Transplant catalpa seedlings in the winter. Cover the roots with a 2 inches of thick, organic mulch.

  3. Fertilize the seedlings and water them frequently. Keep the area free from weeds and competitive plants.

  4. Allow catalpa worms to nest in the trees. Do not treat the trees with pesticides. Catalpa trees quickly regrow leaves devoured by the worms.

  5. Harvest catalpa worms from April to November. Look for large hatches in the spring and again in the late summer.

  6. Spread a tarp on the ground surrounding the catalpa tree. Shake the tree vigorously, and the worms will fall out of the tree onto the tarp.

  7. Preserve worms in jars filled with sawdust or cornmeal. Put the jars in a freezer until ready for use. The worms will still be alive when they are thawed.