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Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillar

Catalpa sphinx caterpillars are major defoliators of catalpa. With their chewing mouthparts, they strip away large portions of the leaves. In heavy infestations they can completely defoliate the entire tree. Catalpa sphinx caterpillars have a distinctive black “horn” on the end of their abdomen. Mature caterpillars have black heads and a broad black stripe running the length of their back. The sides of the caterpillars are white or pale yellow and sometimes have black spots or vertical bands. Although the caterpillars can cause complete defoliation, in some instances control is usually not warranted because of the sporadic fluctuations in the population from year to year and the ability of the trees to grow new leaves.