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CRAYFISH IN HOME LAWNS

S. Bambara, Extension Entomologist

CAUTION: These recommendations were developed for North Carolina and may not apply to other areas.

CRAYFISH, Cambarus (Lacunicambarus) diogenes, C. (Depressicambarus) reduncus, and Fallicambarus (Creaserinus) fodiens& other spp., Astacidae


crayfish moundGeneral Information

Crayfish play important roles in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, both as food sources for many animals and as consumers of plant and animal material.  Crayfish are aquatic, but there are a few burrowing or "terrestrial" species. Areas of turf in low-lying areas that maintain damp soils and shallow subsurface water levels may support crayfish populations. Damage is not so significant to the turf, but large amounts of soil may be brought to the surface as the crayfish tunnel in the soils. Such large mud turrets may create mounds that can be annoying or inconvenient, especially during lawn maintainance.

Biology

Crayfish consume both plant and animal food, living or dead. They eat live and decaying plants and animals. They are also eaten by birds, reptiles, mammals and other crayfish so they are important to an ecosystem on several levels. Hence, crayfish are involved in a great deal of nutrient transfer in your backyard ecosytem, if you have them in your local habitat. 

Control

These interesting creatures are unfortunately susceptible to many lawn pesticides. Control or reduction of their population is not encouraged. Habitats that support terrestrial crayfish most likely have a lot of soil water movement. Pesticides may migrate to many off-target organisms and are probably not a good idea on these soils. These nonprolific creatures should be appreciated like a interesting bird or turtle living on the property. Mound construction is somewhat seasonal. Annoying turret mounds can be raked smooth from time to time or dispersed with a water stream from a garden hose. Modification of the area using drainage techniques may reduce the moisture content and water level in the soil, thereby discouraging the population through habitat modification. This could be expensive, however, and population reduction is not necessarily a beneficial goal.

Links of interest:

John Cooper NC Museum of Natural Sciences Crayfish Information

Crayfish world

Other Resources

For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.


Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
© 2003 NC Cooperative Extension Service

ENT/ort-125 January 2003

Web page last reviewed January, 2011 by the webperson.