Crayfish, also known as crawfish, freshwater lobster, mud bugs, freshwater crab, crawdad and several other names depending on where you are in the United States, have become a major nuisance in certain regions of the country. There are over 300 species in our country and several which are raised specifically to be eaten! However, as people have relocated populations into streams, rivers, ponds and lakes, problems have arisen. This article will explain why crayfish can become a problem and then offer control measures to help reduce damage and populations which are too large.
Crayfish are natural food for many animals including snakes, mink, otter, raccoon, birds and many species of fish. Property owners will plant crayfish in ponds and lakes in an attempt to feed their private fish stock. Given the chance, these initial populations will bloom uncontrollably which can actually reduce fish breeding as well as lead to damage of important lake shore.
Crayfish cause damage two ways. First, they eat a lot. They love fish eggs and fry and seek such food supplies when available. Their tenacious diet will prevent local fish populations from developing properly. Be careful when trying to use crayfish as a main food supply hoping to feed fish which will grow unusually large because of the abundance of crayfish. In the end, a large population of crayfish may lead to decreasing the amount of fish you are trying so hard to grow! The second way crayfish cause problems is with their burrowing. This can occur two ways. Initially, most species will burrow out of the water shore and emerge a few feet up on dry land. Their burrows serve as a way they can retreat from the water as well as provide shelter. This happens all the time where crayfish are present; most of this is never noticed by land owners.
However, as populations of crayfish increase, their burrowing will reach further and further out into turf areas. Overcrowding will cause them to leave the water, walk out past existing burrows and dig new ones further and further away from water. This digging will occur mostly at night and generally leads to turf damage in two ways. First, crayfish will be killing plants and shrubs as they dig. Additionally, their burrows are unsightly. Some people refer to them as “chimneys” or “crayfish castles”, but whatever you want to call them, they are not attractive in the yard. The second type of damage which stems from these burrows is caused from predatory animals which will begin to dig looking for this easy food source. Racoon, skunk and armadillo will regularly dig into turf causing even more of a mess as well as additional damage. If you are having problems with racoon, armadillo or other animals digging in the yard, be sure to review our article which details how to stop this problem. Remember, humans are not the only animal which enjoy a crayfish meal. If left to breed as they want, crayfish will rapidly multiply leading to populations which local conditions may not be able to sustain. To keep these numbers in check, there are two things you can do.
CRAYFISH WOODEN TRAPS
First, watch local populations and see if they are growing too quickly. If you observe populations in the water expanding too quickly, you may need to thin them by trapping. Traps offer an easy way to both catch and monitor local populations. Simply bait them with anything like chicken or dead fish and crayfish will readily enter. WOODEN CRAWFISH TRAPSare plenty sturdy and will last a good long time. Made the old fashioned way, they don’t rust or rot nearly as fast the metal designs. Set them out in 2-6 feet of water and check them every day or two. Remove unwanted crayfish as needed. Trapping out large populations before they begin to relocate is easy and efficient; keeping their numbers in check is natural and serves to help the ecosystem in and around the water.
Crayfish Wood Traps: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/cage/crayfish-wood-trap-11x11x24
CRAYFISH NET TRAP
If you have a lot of water to monitor or need to remove a lot of crayfish rapidly, use the CRAYFISH NET TRAPS. These are relatively inexpensive and very effective at catching a lot of crayfish quickly. Set them out along shore lines with twine leads for quick removal. Crayfish which are feeding when you pull up the trap will be caught.
Crayfish Net Traps: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/cage/crayfish-net-trap
CRAYFISH KILLER AND REPELLENT
If the local populations have grown out of the water and into the yard, they can be treated with a product mostly used for ants. This product is mostly used for fire ants and is labeled to be used by sprinkling it out over ant mounds. When used this way where crayfish burrows are visible, this same active will take care of unwanted crayfish too. The key to it working is that uses an active that crayfish are susceptible to. Known as acephate, its hard to find this active but we do have it available in a FIRE ANT KILLER jar. It’s actually a powder formulation and to use, just sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons on top of each burrow and you’re done. Do not treat closer than 10 feet of the water shore since you don’t want any to creep into the local water. If you keep your applications more than 10 feet away, the risk of the material relocating is minimal.
Crayfish are a vital food for both fish and animals. If left unchecked, local populations can grow out of hand. Thin, if necessary, with crayfish traps. If you have a large amount of burrows which are causing damage, use Orthene WP to treat. Continue to watch them carefully and take appropriate action as needed to insure a healthy balance of wildlife in and around your pond, lake or stream.
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