The Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillar is known as Catawba or Catalpa worm while it is in the larval stage and emerges as white with black spots. They ultimately develop a darker color as they get older. They generally have a golden color with a black stripe down the middle of their back and black dots on either side.

Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillar On Road

Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillar On Road

Habitat and Distribution

Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillars can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, parks, and gardens. They are most commonly found in the eastern half of the United States, including Arkansas. In Arkansas, the caterpillar is often found on the leaves of catalpa trees, from which it gets its name.


As a caterpillar, the Catalpa Sphinx feeds exclusively on the leaves of catalpa trees. It is a voracious eater and can quickly defoliate a tree if populations are too high. However, the tree is able to quickly regrow its leaves, ensuring the survival of the caterpillar population.

Life Cycle

The Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillar goes through a complete metamorphosis to become an adult. After hatching from its egg, the caterpillar will spend several weeks feeding on the leaves of the catalpa tree. When it is ready to pupate, the caterpillar will spin a cocoon, where it will remain for several weeks before emerging as an adult moth.

The adult Catalpa Sphinx Moth is a large and beautiful insect, with a wingspan of up to 4 inches. The moth is nocturnal and is attracted to lights, where it will often rest during the day. The adult moths do not feed and only live for a few days, during which time they mate and lay eggs for the next generation of caterpillars.


The Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillar is a fascinating insect that plays an important role in the ecosystem of Arkansas. Its life cycle is a testament to the amazing adaptability and resilience of nature. If you have the opportunity to observe this remarkable creature in the wild, be sure to take the time to appreciate its beauty and learn more about its fascinating life cycle.


Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: RF100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: September 17, 2022 (8:13 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f7.1
  • Shutter speed: 1/320
  • ISO: 6400 (Auto)
  • Focal Length: 500 mm

Here are a couple of different caterpillars I have photographed: Luna Moth Caterpillar and Eastern Tent Caterpillars