A steaming hot pot of boiled crayfish, a stick of butter, some crusty bread, and homemade cocktail sauce is a great way to spend a day at the banks of the bayou. The only problem is that you can only eat so much crayfish, especially if your property is infested with too many of them. Crayfish burrows can keep water from flowing fast along the banks. Some species of crayfish also multiply too fast, causing damage to bodies of water. Before your property becomes infested by crayfish, here are some ways to get rid of them.
What are Crayfish?
Crayfish, also known as crawfish or crawdads, are crustaceans that live in bodies of fresh water. Crayfish are related to lobsters, and some people may mistake them for dwarf or baby lobsters. Like lobsters, crayfish are decapod crustaceans. Crabs, lobsters, and prawns are other examples of decapod crustaceans. Crayfish exhibit the following unique parts and characteristics:
- The body of a crayfish is divided into 19 segments.
- The body of a crayfish is divided into two main parts. The cephalothorax houses the vital organs, and the abdomen is the part that aids the crayfish in swimming and crawling.
- Crayfish usually grow up to three inches in length, although some species of crayfish can grow larger.
- Crayfish usually have two claws of uneven length. One claw of the crayfish may be shorter than the other. It’s normal for crayfish to have one missing claw.
Crayfish are found in bodies of fresh water. There are many species of crayfish found in North America, particularly in the southeastern United States. The animal is also common in Scandinavia, Mexico, Turkey, and China. Crayfish are a good indicator of the cleanliness of their habitat, although some species of crayfish can survive in polluted waters.
Some species of crayfish multiply so fast that they become pests. Crayfish burrow in streams and rivers, although some crayfish can burrow themselves in lawns and garden ponds. Crayfish found in your lawn are caused by a shallow water table or aquifer. Imported crayfish thrown into non-native waters can develop a disease called crayfish plague, and potentially cause ecological damage.
Contact the Wildlife Authorities
If you have a serious problem with crayfish infestations, you need to report the problem to your local Fish and Wildlife Agency. There may be laws and ordinances regarding killing wildlife, and you may even end up paying big money because of the ecological disaster you cause if you use chemicals. Wildlife agencies will know what to do about a crayfish problem, and offer you the best advice.
Provide the agency with a rough estimate of how many crayfish have burrowed in your lawn. Better yet, take a crayfish and show it to them, so that they can find a way to best deal with the crayfish safely and humanely.
Don’t Use Chemicals
Some people may think that chemicals and crayfish repellents are the best way to get rid of crayfish. If you do not plan on selling, eating, or giving away the crayfish, then you may use insecticides. Chemical treatments are effective at getting rid of crayfish, although they can pollute waters and the ecosystem. Chemicals are also very expensive and require a great deal of experience and expertise to use properly.
Use Crayfish Traps
One way to get rid of crayfish is to use crayfish traps. A crayfish trap is a meshed cylinder usually made from rust-proof steel or high-strength plastic. A one-way door allows the crayfish to enter, but prevents it from leaving. Crayfish traps can hold as much as 15 to 20 pounds of crayfish, although some professional crayfish trappers have been known to use big traps that can hold up to 40 pounds of crayfish.
Unlike chemicals, crayfish traps are more humane and are proven to be just as effective for crayfish problems. Trapped crayfish do not have poisons and are safe to eat. Chum, or fish carcasses, are used as bait for crayfish. Crayfish are very good scavengers, and can spot a fish carcass even underwater.
Here are some steps to make a crayfish trap more effective:
- Buy a crayfish trap with a heavy or weighted iron bar at the bottom. The trap should be partially submerged underwater.
- Use good-quality chum. Fish bones and the remains of a filleted fish don’t work as well as whole, old fish from a previous catch.
- Smaller crayfish traps are perfectly suited for crayfish problems on lawns, garden ponds, or rock gardens. If you live near a stream with many crayfish scurrying around, you may need to use bigger traps.
You can also make a wooden crayfish trap on your own. Wooden traps are small enough to hold three or more crayfish that you can keep as pets. Check out an arts-and-crafts book from your local library or from websites on the Internet to see how you can make a wooden crayfish trap.
Don’t Set Crayfish to the Wild
A common cause of crayfish infestations is when people release a pet crayfish into non-native waters. If you’re not sure where you caught a wild crayfish, or if you bought a crayfish from a pet shop, you shouldn’t release it to a river or a stream. Crayfish plague can infect and kill crayfishes, fishes, and other animals native to that stream.
If you do need to let go of a pet crayfish, it’s often a better idea to either sacrifice the crayfish, or to give it away to a friend. When you do choose to give the crayfish away, tell your friend that he or she should not release the crayfish into non-native waters. If you did catch a crayfish from the wild and you do know where you caught it, it’s probably safe to release it at the same water source.
Sell ‘Em, or Eat ‘Em
Sometimes having a lot of crayfish can work to your advantage, provided that the authorities clear the species for human consumption. Crayfish are a delicacy and a favorite food among many people, and you can sell the mature crayfish. You can also set up crayfish boil parties for your friends and family members. Crayfish is easy to cook, and tastes very good too. Here’s a simple recipe for a crayfish boil:
- Get a pot big enough to hold a lot of corn ears, potatoes, and 40 pounds of live crayfish.
- Fill the pot up with water, and spike it with seasonings like salt, black peppercorns, garlic, onions, lemon halves, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, coriander seed, garlic powder, onion powder, and crab or shrimp boil seasoning.
- Wash the crayfish well, and bring the water to a boil.
- Put the corn ears, potatoes, and crayfishes into a colander, and boil them.
- After 10-15 minutes, the crayfish boil is done. Serve together with some cold beer, cola, butter, cocktail sauce, and crisp white bread.
From here, it’s all a matter of sucking the head and pinching the tail. You may enjoy the crayfish so much that you’ll think of no better way to get rid of a serious crayfish problem than eating them.
Crayfish can be a problem, but they also taste good. Getting rid of pest-like crayfish never tasted better with some Cajun seasoning, a lot of cocktail sauce, and good fun to go around.
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