virile crayfish

(Orconectes virilis)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

virile crayfish

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Widespread and abundant

Season

Most active May to September

Habitat

A variety of lakes, streams, and wetlands

Lifespan

3 to 4 years

Photo by Kirk Nelson  
Size

Total Length: 1¾ to 5

   

Identification

This is a medium- to large-sized freshwater crustacean. It is widespread and abundant across North America. It is native to central United States and Canada from Quebec to Tennessee in the east to Alberta and Colorado in the west. It is introduced and considered invasive outside of its native range from coast to coast.

Adults are 1¾ to 5 long and smooth. Males are usually larger than females. Occasionally, an individual will be entirely bluish.

The abdomen and the shield (carapace) covering the front part of the body (cephalothorax) are olive-brown dappled with dark brown. The long spike-like extension of the carapace that projects forward between the eyes (rostrum) has straight, more or less parallel sides. There is a pair of dark brown splotches on the upper (dorsal) side of abdominal segments 1 through 5.

The claws (chelae) are broadly flattened and usually bluish with numerous yellow bumps (tubercles). They do not have black bands at the tip. The movable finger (dactylus) on the claw has a straight margin. The legs are usually bluish with yellow tubercles.

 
Similar
Species

 


Larval Food

 

 
Adult Food

Mostly dead animals, but also living snails, insects, fish, tadpoles, and plant material.

 
Life Cycle

Breeding takes place in the fall or early spring. The female stores the sperm, sometimes for months, and fertilizes the eggs in the spring. The fertilized eggs are attached is raspberry-like bunches to the abdominal appendages (swimmerets). They hatch in one to two months. They moult several times and reach maturity in their second year.

 
Behavior

They prefer streams with rocky bottoms, moderate flow and turbidity, abundant cover, and stable water levels. They often use rocks, logs, or other organic debris as cover. They occasionally dig burrows into muddy banks, especially when water levels are low.

To survive the winter, they migrate to deeper water that does not completely freeze and they become inactive.


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 24, 29, 30.


Comments

 


Taxonomy

Class:

Malacostraca (Malacostracans)

 

Superorder:

Eucarida (Eucarida (Crabs, Crayfish, Shrimp, etc.))

 

Order:

Decapoda (Crabs, Crayfishes, Lobsters, Prawns, and Shrimp)

 

Suborder:

Pleocyemata

 

Infraorder:

Astacidea (true lobsters and crayfishes)

 

Superfamily:

Astacoidea (crayfish)

 

Family:

Cambaridae

 

Subfamily:

Cambarinae

 

Genus:

Orconectes

 

Subgenus:

Gremicambarus

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

eastern crayfish

northern crayfish

virile crayfish


 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Carapace

The hard, upper (dorsal), shell-like covering (exoskeleton) of the body or at least the thorax of many arthropods and of turtles and tortoises. In crustaceans, it covers the cephalothorax.

 

Cephalothorax

The front part of the body of various arthropods, composed of the head region and the thoracic area fused together. Eyes, legs, and antennae are attached to this part.

 

Rostrum

The stiff, beak-like projection of the carapace or prolongation of the head of an insect, crustacean, or cetacean.

 

 

 

 

 

       

Visitor Photos

   
Share your photo of this insect.

Kirk Nelson


Several were crawling around a culvert that had water flowing into Wood Pond. They were about 1½ inches long.

  virile crayfish   virile crayfish

       
       
       

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Other Videos

 
  Northern Crayfish (Orconectes virilis?)
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on May 23, 2013

Northern Crawfish (Orconectes virilis) seems eager to migrate upstream, against the strong lotic current, during a high water event after three days of almost ceaseless precipitation. Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (22 May 2013).

 
     
  Crayfish - (virile crayfish I think) Who wants to get pinched?
Nature Now! - Chris Egnoto
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 3, 2014

In this video, My friend Joe is learning to catch crayfish. It was pretty funny to be there. There is some cool crayfish facts and underwater footage.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this insect.

Kirk Nelson
6/24/2018

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Several were crawling around a culvert that had water flowing into Wood Pond. They were about 1½ inches long.

virile crayfish


     
     
 

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