Invasive red swamp crayfish found in Michigan - WNEM TV 5

Invasive red swamp crayfish found in Michigan

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red swamp crayfish (Source DNR) red swamp crayfish (Source DNR)

An invasive red swamp crayfish has been found in two Michigan locations.

The crayfish, also known as Louisiana crayfish, were found in Sunset Lake in Vicksburg, south of Kalamazoo, and in a retention pond off Haggerty Road in Novi.

In 2015, a pile of dead red swamp crayfish were found at Kollen Park in Holland, no live crayfish were found at that time.

Red swamp crayfish are native to the Mississippi River drainage and the Gulf Coast and are the popular “crawfish” or “crawdads” used in southern cooking.

They are a deep red color with bright red, raised spots on the body and claws. They also have a black, wedge-shaped stripe on the top of the abdomen.

The crayfish are a concern because of their ability to damage earthen structures and they pose a threat to the environment.

“Eradicating red swamp crayfish is very difficult,” said Nick Popoff, aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager for the DNR. “They dig deep burrows near lakes and rivers and can spread quickly over land.” Popoff said that such burrows, which can be more than 3 feet deep, can cause damage (through bank destabilization) to infrastructure such as dams, levees, irrigation systems and personal property. In Wisconsin, the only solution for one instance of a red swamp crayfish invasion was an extreme measure to pave over a pond.  

They also compete aggressively with native crayfish and feed on them, along with insects, snails and small fish.

Red swamp crayfish can survive drought conditions and are known to migrate as much as approximately 2 miles over land in search of habitat. They are very fertile, with females laying up to 600 eggs at a time and reproducing up to two times in a year.

If you see any red swamp crayfish, take a picture and report it, along with the date and location here.

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