Red Swamp Crayfish
COMMON NAME:Red Swamp Crayfish
SCIENTIFIC NAME:Procambarus clarkii
ORIGIN:Gulf Coast and Mississippi River drainage
DESCRIPTION:Red swamp crayfish are crustaceans that are dark red in color and grow to 2-5 inches in length. Their bodies and claws are covered in raised, bright red spots, and they may have a black, wedge-shaped stripe on their tails. Red swamp crayfish have an elongated head with a triangular rostrum, which is a wedge-shaped tip of the head. The plates on the body of the red swamp crayfish touch on the center of its back distinguishing from the native white river crayfish (Procambarus acutus). Juvenile specimens may require a specialist for identification.
HABITAT:Red swamp crayfish are a freshwater species that can invade lakes, ponds, rivers and wetlands. They are tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions.
THREAT:Red swamp crayfish directly compete with native species for food and habitat. Their introduction has also been shown to lead to a decline in native crayfish populations as they are frequent carriers of the crayfish fungus plague. The burrowing and foraging behavior of red swamp crayfish may also lead to eutrophic conditions and blooms of cyanobacteria.
A lack of targeted chemical control and the ability of red swamp crayfish to dig deep burrows and evade many forms of management, make prevention the best method of control. Educating anglers, crayfish trappers, bait dealers, and teachers about the threats posed by red swamp crayfish will help reduce the risk of spreading this species to new areas. Intensive harvest will not eradicate red swamp crayfish but may help reduce adult populations and minimize some impacts.
WNY PRISM PRIORITY:
Early Detection Priority Species
Tier 2 – Eradication
NYS Invasive Species Tiers Chart - Tier Definitions
NYS Prohibited and Regulated Species - Part 575:
PATHWAYS OF INVASION:
Red swamp crayfish can be introduced through many pathways including live bait dumping, aquarium releases and intentional stocking for human consumption. Once introduced to an area, red swamp crayfish can walk on land over several miles at night and during wet weather, allowing them to invade new areas.
One known location in Erie County.
MAP (via iMapInvasives):
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This map shows confirmed observations (green points) submitted to the NYS Invasive Species Database.
Absence of data does not necessarily mean absence of the species at that site, but that it has not been reported there.
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