Rusty Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)


Credit: Jeff Gunderson/Minnesota Sea Grant


Credit: Dale E. Westaby

Where did the rusty crayfish come from?

  • The rusty crayfish is actually native to the southern United States.
  • It is believed that they were probably introduced to new areas by fishermen using them as bait.

Why are rusty crayfish a problem?

  • They are an opportunistic feeder, which means they eat almost anything, including plants and small fish.
  • They are a very aggressive species that often displace native crayfish.
  • They also reduce the aquatic plant abundance and diversity by destroying the plants as they feed.
  • Rusty crayfish mate in the late summer, early fall, or early spring, but the females wait until spring to lay their eggs. Each female can lay 80-575 eggs that will hatch in 3-6 weeks depending on the water temperature.

What do rusty crayfish look like?

  • Rusty crayfish have dark rusty-colored spots on each side of their back, about where you would grab them to pick them up.
  • They also have large, smooth claws that vary in color from grayish-green to reddish brown.
  • The rusty crayfish also have black bands at the claw tips.

How do we control rusty crayfish?

  • The best way to control rusty crayfish is to slow the spread of them to other lakes.
  • Do not use them as bait.
  • Inspect your boat and trailer for any exotic species and plants.
  • Drain water from motor, boat, live well and bait bucket.
  • Never transport them from one body of water to another.
  • Learn how to identify the rusty crayfish.






Login