Oh my freakin’ god.

By April 13, 2013 Stuff In My Yard 6 Comments

So apparently the world is divided into two groups.

People who know that lawn crayfish exist, and people who go “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!”

Up until an hour ago, I belonged to the latter group.

And then I was idly raking leaves off some tender plants in the narrow, soggy flowerbed alongside the garage wall, and I happened to glance down into the burrow.

The burrow that has been there since last year. The burrow that I thought had some kind of rodent in it.

There was a crustacean claw in it.

Attached to a crustacean.

Apparently this is a thing in the South.

Well, what else was I going to name him?

I can’t tell the species. At a guess, it’s either a devil crayfish or a Greensboro burrowing crayfish, which are the two good color matches, or it’s one of a dozen crayfish that have no common names and not much in the way of photos but exist in lawns throughout the South. (It is not the common red crayfish, as he is murky gray-brown.)

I did what anybody does when they learn that an aquatic creature is living in their flowerbed–I went to Twitter screaming “HOW IS THIS MY LIFE!?!”

Several people informed me that yes. This is a thing that happens.

Everyone else on earth assumed I was drunk or insane or being an artist or engaging in some obscure form of collaborative fiction, possibly with Seanan McGuire. (Which would be awesome, don’t get me wrong, but no. The crayfish really exists.)

Some species, apparently, live in lawns. Anywhere with a high water table, say. And at night they come out and walk around the lawn.

There is a five-inch crayfish walking around my garden on ten legs right this minute while I’m typing.

Not gonna lie. That kinda squicks me out a little. I mean, I love animals well beyond the point of sanity and reason, but…dude, it is walking around out there. A freakin’ LOBSTER is WALKING in my garden.

(I poked a stick down the hole. It grabbed the stick. I pulled it partway out. It is a good five inches long. No, I’m not going to eat him.)

So. Um. South? Are you listening?

Nobody else knows you have burrowing crayfish.

This is not like having gophers or rats or pigeons. This is…like…NOBODY has lawn crayfish. Nobody in the rest of the country thinks this is a thing. You need to TELL people this is a thing. Preferably when they enter the state. There should be signs posted on the “Welcome to North Carolina” sign that says “BY THE WAY, WE HAVE LAWN CRAYFISH.”

It would be like having a tree octopus. Or squid that roost in the attic like bats. It is not a thing that the rest of the country is aware of. It is weird.


That said, I guess he’s been there for a year now, and he’s not hurting anything, near as I can tell. They appear to mostly cause cosmetic damage to lawns (which I don’t have) and they are also apparently nearly impossible to remove, and if this is a Greensboro burrowing crayfish, it’s a species of Special Concern that may actually be endangered except we don’ t know enough to get good data, so…well…

I guess I have a crayfish.

And this is my life.


  • Sporky says:

    Yup, we have lawn crawfish. When I was a kid, I used to pick up the mud piles they’d have over their holes and pretend they were doughnuts.

    Yeah, weird kid.

  • Tom Willis says:

    “It would be like having a tree octopus”
    You know those are real too, right? You get them in Pacific Islands.

  • Sarah W says:

    Eeyup. I used to live in Louisiana as a kid, and one of my favorite things to do was to hunt down and knock over the “crawfish castles”. To this day I’m surprised that I never had a battalion sent after me for my crimes against shellfish kind.

  • June says:

    Lived with them all my life on the TX Gulf Coast. I thought they were everywhere and everyone knew about them. They didn’t bother me until I started vegetable gardening. I just went out to look at my garden and one just started cucumber plant has been swallowed up into a hole made by a crawdad. No one seems to know what to do with them, though. I’m still looking. Can’t have all my plants swallowed up after all that hard work.

  • Megan says:

    Gah, having moved to South Carolina 3 years ago from California I’ve gloriously missed this squick-tastic experience. Finding out that there were tiny (and not fatal) scorpions all over was bad enough. Seriously, in CA if there is a scorpion, you run like hell. I might have slightly embarrassed myself by freaking out at a campground when I saw a little 1 inch scorpion. And by a little, I mean big girly squealing and maybe a few tears.

    Still, I think that lawn crayfish, tree octopus, and attic squid need to be drawn. Especially roosting attic squid. (and not roasting as I first typed. *fail*)