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Oh my freakin’ god.

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.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

(Deleted comment)
Seems like just one wouldn't be worth the effort of cooking? I don't know anyone who's tried eating one though.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
The devil crayfish apparently gets up into Michigan... Well, I'm kinda creeped out now.

Apparently it's a thing in Arkansas, too. At least, Jeff looked at me as though I were insane, and said "well of course, where else would they live? What did you think those holes in the lawn were?" Me (with dawning horror) "moles?" Him: "well, yes, those too but absolutely crayfish.
That's why they're called mud bugs" Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
Is there a club for Sensible Midwesterners Surviving in the South yet? Can we start one?

They're common in northern Missouri too - that's where I first met them, in my midwestern mother's home town, near Kirksville, about 30 miles south of the Iowa line.

(Deleted comment)
Yes you do. We did, in any rate, when I was a kid growing up in Hampton. They built up mud chimneys ... about an inch or so high - like worm casings as I recall.

Mind you, that was two score years ago, but .. .they were there.

and onion grass. I miss onion grass.

OH MY GOD I DID NOT KNOW. I thought they lived in streams and such, in the bottom, and that was why they are called mud bugs. We would go looking for them in streams in Michigan. I was horrified to later discover that people ate those things. We just caught them and let them go! Ew!

Five inches! In your lawn! </p>

Incidentally, do you know about the giant stick bug they have brought back from near extinction? There is video of one hatching, it is glorious and creepy and awesome and ew and how did all that fit into there, seriously now.

Of course you have a crayfish. I read the top lines of your post without knowing who had posted (it's just the way my friends page works; I find out halfway down, who I'm reading), and I was already "okay, got to be Ursula" before ever I came to your icon.

Personally I would eat it, of course, but my money says you'll be doing the other thing, feeding it before the week is out.

Awwww, I love those guys. Creepy, yes, but . . . endearingly horrible. Congratulations on your new tenant!

Oh god. I am suddenly terrified of my garden. I live in the South and I did not know this was a thing.

Fear not! Austin doesn't have the right kind of soil, and besides you're in a long-term drought. We had them in Beaumont until the fire ants ate them. I'm glad they're not all extinct!

Grats on your new pet! Feed him treats. Train him to do tricks. ;)

I don't think we have 'em in HOuston. Possibly the cottonmouths who live in the grass eat them?

Houston? Houston Texas?

HAH - they are here. I live in Spring and we get them all the time.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
. . . engaging in some obscure form of collaborative fiction, possibly with Seanan McGuire.

Please stand by while our neural networks find an appropriate response. (Other than "DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN!")

THIS, please! Or maybe you could do illustrations for her? I WANT to see you draw the attic in the Michigan house with the Aeslin mice, as described in the story No Place Like Home available here:

Please please consider this?

You would see them out and about after heavy rains in Topeka. I always assumed they had come out of (not really close) waterways. Now I'm wondering....

Wait wait WHAAT? I grew up in Manhattan and never saw a damn one.

Sure, we had these when I was living in Louisiana. The type we had would make these little mud chimneys, and I guess our teachers were adventurous because we'd get them in school and get to fire them in kilns and then paint them and make them into little pencil holders and stuff.

Pardon me, I believe my brain just exploded from sheer awesome.

Huh. I used to go to the creek down the road for crayfish, but in the yard? That's a new one.

We have lawn lobsters living in our yards here in North Carolina?? Are those the things making odd little holes every now and again on the edge of my yard that I've never seen?