Burrowing Crawfish Problems: Getting Rid of Crayfish In The Garden


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Crawfish are a seasonal problem in some regions. They tend to make burrows in lawns during the rainy season, which can be unsightly and can have the potential to damage mowing equipment. The crustaceans aren’t dangerous and don’t hurt any other part of the lawn but often their burrows are cause enough to want them gone. Getting rid of crawfish is not that easy, and really should start with re-sculpting your yard. Try these tips for removing, also known as crayfish, in the garden.

Crayfish Mounds in Lawns

Burrowing crayfish problems are primarily a nuisance and an eye sore. These crustaceans feed on detritus and whatever they can scavenge. They don’t do any harm to landscape plants and their burrows don’t permanently damage turfgrass roots.

About the biggest complaint are crayfish mounds in the lawn. These don’t get as numerous as say, mole hills, but they can be unsightly and a tripping and mowing hazard.

How to Get Rid of Crayfish in Your Yard

If you have a population of terrestrial crayfish living in your landscape, you can try to consider them a unique wonderful creature sharing your space or you can try to get rid of them. In cases where the animals are in great numbers or when they pose a danger, getting rid of crayfish may be necessary.

The first thing to consider is making a more inhospitable area by terra-scaping so there are no boggy areas for crayfish to build burrows. They tend to like the low lying areas of the garden where run-off collects. Another option is to install solid wood or stone fences that are snug to the ground, but this can be costly and time consuming.

Fixing the mounds is a little thing because you can knock them over, rake out the dirt or water it in with a hose. However, just because you got rid of the mound doesn’t mean you don’t still have crayfish in the garden. If your property has a stream nearby and low lying moist areas, the critters are going to persist. They live in the burrows and have a secondary tunnel to the stream where they breed.

During rainy periods you may be able to see the animals on the surface of the soil. There are no pesticides, fumigants, or toxicants labeled safe to use on the crustaceans. Any poisons will contaminate the adjacent water. The best way to remove the animals is with trapping.

Permanent Solutions to Crayfish in the Landscape

Traps are humane and non toxic. You don’t have to worry about poisoning other animals or leaving persistent residue in your soil. To trap crayfish, you need metal traps, some bait and soil anchors.

The best baits are meat that is slightly off, or wet pet food. The stinkier the better according to pro baiters. Lay the trap near the burrow and bait it with the food. Anchor the trap with soil staples or something similar so the animal doesn’t drag it off. Check traps daily.

Use gloves when removing the crawfish. If you don’t want to have burrowing crayfish problems again, don’t release them to a nearby waterway. They make excellent bait for fishing or you can take them to a wild area and release them. This method is safe to your landscape, family and even the crayfish.

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How do you get rid of crawfish/crawdads in your yard?

I can appreciate your desire to do something about this, Pamela, but I'm afraid the only longterm solution is to work to improve the drainage on your property. Most sources specifically recommend against chemical controls because of the threat to water quality and how widely they can be distributed by water movement. No chemical controls are registered in Texas. For some additional perspective and guidance, see this from Virginia Cooperative Extension: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/420/420-253/420-253.html From Texas A&M: http://landscapeipm.tamu.edu/what-is-ipm/ipm-concepts/pest-identification/good-bug-bad-bug/neither/crawfish/

Thank you so much for your advise. I will take a look at it. hopefully they will have something useful and affordable.


Get Rid of Dirt Mounds in the Lawn October 24, 2014

I have little hills all over my yard. They are about 1 inch high and 2 inches in diameter. When I scrape the dirt back there is a little hole about the size of a fishing worm. These things are so bad that riding the mower across our yard is like driving in an old car without shocks down a gravel road. Can you please tell me what they are and what to do to get rid of them?

Insects, voles, moles, bees and other critters sure have been busy all over the country. I have received a large number of questions about dirt mounds and/or holes in lawns. In your case, because of the size of dirt mound and hole that you described, I’m going to guess the culprit is an insect.

Do you live near a natural source of water? You could have been invaded by crayfish. Crayfish will relocate to a lawn when populations outgrow their habitat. The holes will be about 1 inch in diameter, 2 to 4 inches tall and made from balls of mud. These holes are formed by the crayfish digging down to reach water. They tend to resemble towers more than mounds. Eradicating crayfish can be tricky because they live in water and each state has different regulations about applying pesticides near water. If you think crayfish are the problem contact your local branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see what options are available.

Next on the list of suspects is the solitary or ground bee. While some bees are social, living in colonies with a queen, other bees are solitary, nesting and raising larvae alone. Some solitary bees are ground nesting. They burrow down into the soil to make a nest. The soil mound is typically 2 inches tall and the hole is about 1/4 of an inch in diameter. Although they are solitary bees they will create nests close together where conditions are favorable. Loose soil in a dry, sunny location is a favorite spot. Solitary bees are gentle and helpful pollinators so I hesitate to recommend any action. However, if bees are indeed the problem it would seem that your situation is extreme. Start by closing up the holes by tamping down the soil. Or try sprinkling water in the area to encourage the bees to move on. If neither of these tactics works try a powder form of pesticide. Begin with something earth friendly like pyrethrin and move up to more potent controls if necessary.

Some bugs like cicadas and June bugs emerge from the ground in late spring and early summer leaving behind small holes and dirt mounds. This problem will correct itself as the season progresses.

Another ground dwelling insect is the cicada killer wasp. This wasp digs a 1-inch diameter hole for housing their larvae. The wasp hunts down a cicada, drags it back to the nest. and leaves it behind as food for the larvae. I’m skeptical that this is your problem because they don’t create mounds, just holes with dirt scattered around.

Earthworms also create mounds of dirt, but there are often no holes associated with their handy work. Most earthworm activity happens in the spring and fall or after a rain. Given the extreme quantity of dirt mounds that you describe, moles should also be considered.

Mole activity is evidenced by 2- to 24-inch volcano-shaped mounds. The nearby grass may also be raised where the mole is tunneling across the lawn.

Finally foraging animals such as birds, squirrels, raccoons, armadillos, and skunks will dig holes in your lawn. These are usually medium to large in size with scattered dirt rather than mounds.


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Burrowing Crayfish

The Question: What kind of animal builds a 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) high mound of mud balls with a 1 inch (2.5 cm) hole in the top? They look like mini volcanoes. I have found a couple of these in a swampy area near a river. I live in Michigan.

Submitted by: Debbie, MI

The Short Answer: Debbie, that sounds like one of the many species of burrowing crayfish (also called crawfish or crawdads). They dig tunnels down to dampness or even to the water table. And they push up muddy soil out of their burrow into a mini volcano shape, with a neat hole at the top. They’re generally nocturnal, so during the day, all you’ll see are the volcanoes, which can be quite numerous. I have spent most of my life in New England, where I don’t believe any of our native crayfish are burrowers. But when I lived in Wisconsin and Kentucky, they were very common. This site has a checklist of the native species of crayfish in Michigan: http://iz.carnegiemnh.org/crayfish/country_pages/state_pages/michigan.htm. There are two burrowers on the Michigan list, the digger crayfish (Fallicambarus fodiens), and the devil crayfish (Cambarus diogenes). The digger crayfish is primarily aquatic, but sometimes digs burrows out of the water. The devil crayfish, however, is a primary burrower, meaning that it lives most of its life in its burrow. So I’m going to guess that’s what you have. For a picture, go to: http://iz.carnegiemnh.org/crayfish/NewAstacidea/species.asp?g=Cambarus&s=diogenes&ssp

More Info: Burrowing seems to be a good strategy for crayfish, as crayfish all over the world have developed a very similar lifestyle of digging complex burrows down to damp or wet soil. Like all crayfish, burrowing crayfish have gills in their abdomen under their shell. The gills are capable of gaining oxygen from air instead of water as long as they are wet.

Crayfish, as you might expect, are classified with the clawed lobsters (Nephropidae. There are over 600 species of crayfish, in three main groupings. The Astacidae and Cambaridae are restricted to the northern hemisphere and centered on Asia and North America, respectively. The Parastacidae are distributed throughout South America and Australia. There are no crayfish native to Africa. The Cambaridae are centered on the Southeastern United States, which has the most diverse crayfish assemblage in the world – more than 300 species, a remarkable number when you realize that they seem to occupy very similar ecological niches. There is also an only slightly less impressive collection of crayfish species in Australia. But that part of the world includes some interesting oddballs, including burrowing crayfish that can live far from any surface water. Then there’s the Tasmanian Giant Crayfish, which can reach 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) – big even by the standards of an ocean-dwelling lobster. To see a picture, go to: http://yhsbiology.wikispaces.com/Crustacea

Trivia #1: The Tasmanian Giant Crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi) is the largest freshwater invertebrate in the world.

Trivia #2: There are two continents with no native crayfish. One is Antarctica. The other is Africa.


Control crawfish in the lawn properly

BATON ROUGE, La. – It’s not every day that Louisiana residents are looking for ways to get rid of crawfish in the lawn. But it does happen, and there are effective ways to get the job done.

LSU AgCenter and Sea Grant specialist Greg Lutz said no pesticides are labeled for crawfish control, but some home remedies are effective.

“There are a few things you don’t want to do when trying to control crawfish,” Lutz said. “One thing you don’t want to do is put pesticides down into burrows because that can potentially contaminate groundwater.”

Lutz said more than 300 crayfish species are found in North America, and it is important to understand which you are dealing with in your lawn.

“It is possible that the species in question is considered of concern, threatened or even endangered,” he said.

In fact, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries lists “imperiled” or “critically imperiled” crawfish populations in 23 Louisiana parishes.

Lutz explained another factor to consider is some of the crawfish in yards maybe remnant populations from where bottomlands were cleared to prepare the site for homes.

In Louisiana, crawfish are normally associated with bodies of water, whether it’s ponds or the Atchafalaya Basin.

But some species of crawfish spend their entire lives away from permanent water, Lutz said.

“In the early spring they leave their burrows for a few hours after heavy rainfalls and mate,” Lutz said. “Then a few weeks later, the females lay their eggs, and the next heavy rain they will emerge again and turn their babies loose in large puddles and ditches.”

More inquiries about crawfish burrows in lawns occur this time of year because they have just finished their spawning season and are back in the ground cleaning out and enlarging their burrows – or making their very first burrows, Lutz said.

Lutz said there are a few considerations when looking for ways to rid your yard of the “mudbugs.”

“Using pesticides in burrows is not only a bad idea, it’s also illegal. And putting bleach down in the burrow is often ineffective,” Lutz said. “The one thing that seems to work is lye.”

Lutz said about one tablespoon full usually does the job. And as it migrates through the surrounding soil, lye turns into harmless by-products.

“Remember you need to wear hand and eye protection when applying the lye,” Lutz said.


Bill E Bob 10+ Years
Posts: 3026 Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 12:09 pm Zip Code: 74070 Circle of Safety: Y Location: OK, Skiatook

Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by Bill E Bob » Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:16 pm

Anyone out there have any idea of what chemicals/eradicants can be used to rid ones yard of pesky crayfish and their
mud mounds??

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Jackman 10+ Years
Posts: 2080 Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 4:26 am Zip Code: 12487 Circle of Safety: Y

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by Jackman » Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:22 am

Bill E Bob 10+ Years
Posts: 3026 Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 12:09 pm Zip Code: 74070 Circle of Safety: Y Location: OK, Skiatook

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by Bill E Bob » Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:59 am

Mudbug is the Lousiana' term for crayfish., and yes, they can set up shop in low wet areas of your yard. They dig down several inches and
hollow out a den which stays wet. In the process, they leave nasty little mud mounds as well as contribute to erosion, therefore I am at
war with the little buggers. Would pour fuel down their holes but it's too d--n expensive.

Jackman 10+ Years
Posts: 2080 Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 4:26 am Zip Code: 12487 Circle of Safety: Y

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by Jackman » Sat Jul 19, 2008 6:58 am

Jim Roy 10+ Years
Posts: 637 Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 9:43 am Location: Kentucky-Windsor

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by Jim Roy » Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:10 am


My wife has a long honey do list, I read it, thank about it, than take a nap to see if it goes away.
49 Cub

Jackman 10+ Years
Posts: 2080 Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 4:26 am Zip Code: 12487 Circle of Safety: Y

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by Jackman » Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:27 am

GrubEx will get rid of the Grubs which in turn make the moles food supply dissappear then the moles go some where else.

Mike in Louisiana 10+ Years
Posts: 7055 Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 10:10 am Zip Code: 71023 Circle of Safety: Y Location: LA, Doyline

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by Mike in Louisiana » Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:45 am

First get lawn chair.
Second get plenty of ice cold Budwieser
Third Tie piece of chicken neck to string lower in hole wait 10 min pull out crawdad,
(save till you have a good many ) and put in pot of boiling water with corn on cob
taters and plenty of Creole seasoning.

The only thing I know is if it is really wet you might put in some drain tiles
to dry the area out. But that might get expensive.

1975 cub (LouAnn) serial # 245946, 1941 John Deere Model H

Good judgment comes from experience,
and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Will Rogers

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by John *.?-!.* cub owner » Sat Jul 19, 2008 8:37 am

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by redfin » Sat Jul 19, 2008 9:02 am

Crayfish , ditchbugs , crawdads -When I lived in Kansas them was fish bait and you never even thought about eating one.
Here In Louisiana they are crawfish or mudbugs period!! Not only do we eat them but when boiled we even suck the head to get the last drop of juice and (well you know what's in there) They are so much part of the environment here not many worry about them but as John said a good drought will definately rid them from your lawn.

markwayne 10+ Years
Posts: 271 Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:12 pm Zip Code: 24550 Tractors Owned: 1952 F Cub Location: VA, Evington Contact:

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by markwayne » Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:59 am

Jim Roy 10+ Years
Posts: 637 Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 9:43 am Location: Kentucky-Windsor

Re: Ridding your yard of crayfish/mudbugs??

Post by Jim Roy » Sat Jul 19, 2008 2:10 pm

GrubEx will get rid of the Grubs which in turn make the moles food supply dissappear then the moles go some where else.

My problem isn't grubs. It isn't really problem but I have night crawlers, (not fishing worms I mean big night crawlers) that are the size of small snakes. If I get rid of my night crawlers than a soil problem occurs. I wish it was a grub problem than it would be grubex to the rescue. I do use traps some but there are so many moles that when I get one two more seams to replace the one.


My wife has a long honey do list, I read it, thank about it, than take a nap to see if it goes away.
49 Cub

markwayne 10+ Years
Posts: 271 Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:12 pm Zip Code: 24550 Tractors Owned: 1952 F Cub Location: VA, Evington Contact:

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