Underwater Life – Crawdad (Crawfish, Crayfish)

I just absolutely love doing this research because not only am I learning about fish, but I’m learning about other uses for these words. Apparently in Hickory there is a minor league baseball team called the Hickory Crawdads. Seeing as thought it’s baseball season, this is a good time to learn about the minor league team, right? Now the one thing about today’s fish is I’m not real sure it’s a fish, but two of the names claim fish so we’re going with it. In MO, KS, OK and NW AR we typically refer to them as Crawdad’s. So that had us going around asking, why aren’t there crawmommas? It makes sense right? Especially since Sunday is Mother’s day… oh yeah I threw that in as a reminder. You’re welcome. Now let’s get back to Crawdad’s (Crayfish, Crawfish, Crawdaddy’s, Mudbugs).

Crawdad’s, Crayfish, Crawfish, Freshwater Lobsters, or Mudbugs

  • The name “crayfish” comes from the Old French word escrevisse (Modern French écrevisse)
  • The word has been modified to “crayfish” by association with “fish” (folk etymology).
  • “Crayfish” is more common in the north while “Crawdad” is heard more in central and southwestern regions, and “Crawfish” further south, although there are overlaps.

Colorful, quirky and fascinating

  • At first glance, most crayfish look pretty much alike, but closer study reveals that the species differ greatly in size, color and the proportional development of various body parts.
  • These differences are in turn related to the diversity of habits that crayfish have adopted to find food, reproduce their kind and avoid being eaten by predators such as fish, birds and mammals.

They breathe through feather-like gills and are found in bodies of water.

Freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters

Some species are found in brooks and streams where there is fresh water running, while others thrive in swamps, ditches, and rice paddies.

  • Many are found in lowland areas where the water is abundant in calcium and oxygen rises from underground springs.
  • Most crawdads cannot tolerate polluted water, although some species are hardier.
  • Crayfish living in surface streams.
  • Crayfish living in swamps, marshes and the shallows of ponds and lakes.
  • Crayfish living in burrows away from surface water.
  • Crayfish living in underground streams.

Some kinds of crayfish are known locally as lobsters, crawdads, mudbugs, and yabbies.

taxonomically, they are members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea.

Crayfish feed on living and dead animals and plants.

  • Crayfish are also an important food for more than 200 other animals, serving as the main forage for some of Missouri’s most popular sport fish.
  • Crayfish serve industry and culture in the form of fish bait and freshwater seafood

Crayfish have been recorded as an invasive species from Louisiana to Europe to China. They have been known to consume local rice crops in China.

The study of crayfish is called astacology.

The greatest diversity of crayfish species is found in southeastern North America, with over 330 species in nine genera, all in the family Cambaridae.

Crawdad’s are eaten worldwide.

  • Only a small portion of the body of a crawdad is eaten
  • In most prepared dishes, such as soups, bisques and étouffées, only the tail portion is served.
  • At crawdad boils or other meals where the entire body is presented, other portions, such as the claw meat may be eaten.
  • They are not kosher.

As of 2005 Louisiana supplies 95% of the crawdad’s harvested in the US.

  • In 1987, Louisiana produced 90%
    • 70% of which were consumed locally

2007 the Louisiana crawdad harvest was about 54,800 tons

  • 70-80% are red swamp crawfish
  • 20-30% are white river crawfish.
    • Commercially raised crayfish are almost exclusively either White River Crawfish (Procambarus acutus) or Red Swamp Crawfish (Procambarus clarkii).

People are often aware of primary burrowing crayfish by the mud chimneys they build.

  • When crayfish build chimneys in someone’s lawn, they came into conflict with people because the chimneys are considered to be unsightly and are startling to hit with a mower.
  • However, these crayfish are causing little real harm, their chimney-building will end during dry seasons, and their tunneling activity mixes and aerates the soil, making it more productive.

Missouri Department of Conservation

— http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/common-plants-and-animals/aquatic-invertebrates/crayfish

The Encyclopiedia of Arkansas History & Culture




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