A reader from Illinois wonders about all kinds
of things involving catalpa worms
and the host catalpa sphinx, so although my web page is stuffed with such
information, we will try to get current in the terrible spring and the
early part of the summer.
Dan, the reader, says he and his son have been
scouring the hills of central Illinois without success as they search for
catalpa worms for fish bait. He wonders why he canít find them. The old
ďriver ratsĒ of his area swear by catalpa worms for bait.
To put the answer to that question simply, he
canít find the catalpa worms, larval stage of the catalpa sphinx (Ceratomi
caltapae), a pretty but not showy moth, because it has not yet developed
Here, in my central Indiana bailiwick, the catalpa
trees are in full bloom now. Translate that to regions of Southern Indiana
(say south of Mooresville, or certainly Columbus) and the flowering stage
is over. Northward (say from Kokomo north) the flowering is just getting
started. And even the areas north of Kokomo and south of Mooresville can
be further divided in weather strips. This is because Indiana is roughly
300 miles long and situated smack dab between colder climes to the north
and warmer ones to the south.
Suffice it to say that I start looking for catalpa
worms in the neighborhood of July fourth here (Central Indiana,) but
southward I would look a bit earlier and northward a bit later. Itís a
silly game, but that is a reasonable facsimile explanation of the way weather
works. Of course, I have found that the emergence of catalpa worms is more
than somewhat dependent on the development of spring and summer.
A couple of years ago, I found catalpa worms in
August in my front yard jungle, and that convinced me that all things in
nature can be full of the ability to act uncharacteristically to meet weather
Past experiences with catalpa worms have persuaded
me that they will be present two to four weeks after the flowering has
stopped. Incidentally, clusters
of flowers from catalpa trees are beautiful in their many colors and
rather like an orchid in shape.
My unscientific experience tells me the best way
to obtain catalpa worms (if the branches can be reached) is to pick them
off the bottom sides of the leaves where they feed. But if branches are
out of reach, spread a white sheet on the earth under the tree and shake
the tree vigorously. Climbing the tree should be a last resort and done
carefully. One reader says he has a friend who goes to an infested tree
at night and simply picks them off the ground. This makes sense because,
in their cycle, catalpas are said to burrow into the earth, pupate, and
then emerge the following year as adult moths that deposit their eggs on
the under side of catalpa tree leaves.
Size of the worm seems to make a lot of difference
to those who use them for bait. Lots of anglers seem to prefer big worms
(three-inchers) that are larger in diameter than a pencil. That is fine
for big fish.
But for bluegills, or other panfish, I prefer
a worm less than two inches--even one-inchers work well--when hooked lightly
with a small wire hook and kept moving. Big worms tend to hide the hook
point too well, especially if gobbed on the hook (hooked several times).
I use a two-pound coffee can with plastic top
for storage, placing green catalpa leaves in the can, and keeping them
cool (refrigerated, not frozen), I have never done real well with frozen
worms, but several readers have.
Some advocates of catalpas as fish bait, suggest
big worms gobbed on the hook, then stepped on lightly to bring out the
juices. Some others suggest cutting off the head of a big worm and turning
it inside out on the hook, starting at the point of a long-shank hook.
If you find that some trees never are infested
with worms when others arenít, this is true, it is said, because trees
have different chemistry. This makes sense because the chemistry of a tree
would certainly be found in its leaves, where catalpa worms feed.
ordinance that would make it unlawful to fire weapons in Marion County
is scheduled to be voted upon at 7 p.m. June 11 on the second floor of
Marion County Building in downtown Indianapolis. If you want to protect
your guns (including BB guns) you will be on hand to do it. It is Ordinance