Whether you are from the southern part of the United States or not, you may not have heard or known anything about Catalpa worms. Catalpa worms are actually not worms at all but rather they are the sphinx moth’s larva. But they have been lump into the worm family anyway, by the redneck fishermen who use the little morphs as fish bait.
Other term for this is Catawba worms. It is not your typical cultured item in any farm. Most likely, you may not have heard of a farm that cultures them. That is why it is a very good reason why you should consider starting your own. As added publicity, it is also a refreshing and unique consumer product for the general public to take on.
Catalpa worms are exclusively laid by the sphinx moths on the Catalpa tree. Therefore, growing a tree farm of Catalpa trees will be your first investment. You can buy a fully grown starter tree from the Arbor Day Foundation for $9, but if you are a relative or a friend who has one, and you have time to wait for them to grow, you can ask and pick the seed pods that hang from the limbs.
Catalpa trees make quite a mess with litter, so deciding on how to handle that would be a care-taking issue. An idea to minimize this would be to toss the litter into your composite pile to build up valuable food for your trees. Another would be to turn the litter into profit, by selling the seeds to the soon-to-be owners of Catalpa trees. Or, use it to start campfires.
Other important items you would need to invest in are: fertilizers, sprinklers, wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, containers for your tree crop, a business license, and then marketing and advertising.
If you wish to sell the worms out of season, you would have to freeze them and collect as many as you can quickly since the larva stage only lasts for about three weeks.
You can best start to get the worms by harvesting eggs from an already established tree, then attaching them to your own tree. The best months to do this would be in February and March, since the caterpillars emerge in the spring time. You could also try to order the Catalpa sphinx moths themselves, if you have a source.
The obvious outcome to culturing Catalpa worms would be that they literally infest a tree and devour its leaves. Any species of the Catalpa tree can be a host tree for the larva. What you would have to watch out for are wasps and predators that kill and feed on the worms.