Rusty Crayfish

(Orconectes rusticus)

The rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) comes from streams in the Ohio River basin states of Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. It is suspected that the species was transported via bait bucket by transient anglers who used them as bait while fishing. Today, rusty crayfish are also found in Wisconsin and surrounding states, the northeastern states, New Mexico and many areas in Ontario, Canada. In the areas they inhabit, the rusty crayfish have dominated the native crayfish by taking over their habitat and natural forage at alarming rates.

Other names for this animal

  • Common names: rusty crayfish
  • Scientific names: Orconectes rusticus

Ecological threat

Outside their home range, rusty crayfish are likely to displace native crayfish and reduce aquatic plant abundance and diversity. In some northern Wisconsin lakes, it has eaten most of the aquatic plants, hurting the quality of the lakes. Aquatic plants provide important habitat for fish and other aquatic animals, as well as prevent erosion. By damaging underwater habitat, fish also lose their spawning areas, protective cover and food. Fish that normally eat crayfish don't like the feisty, aggressive "rusty." It takes over the homes of native crayfish and has been known to eat fish eggs. Rusty crayfish reproduce quickly and females lay from 80-575 eggs.



(Gymnocephalus cernuus)
Siberian Elm

Siberian Elm

(Ulmus pumila)