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Wednesday, February 18, 2015


A few months ago, I was approached by one of the County Extension Agent friends to see if I would like to share some of his weekly articles that appear in the local newspaper.  I wasn't sure what he was going to show me.  I mean really, most Extension Agent articles are pretty dry, but my friend Dale has a knack for writing boring stuff into an entertaining reading piece.  I have a couple more that he has sent me if you enjoy this one.-A Kansas Farm Mom

As an extension agent you never know what question will come next. This is what makes the job interesting. Just when I am getting comfortable answering questions, someone throws a change up. A question I was asked was how to get rid of crawdads in a yard? Believe it or not, I did not have that answer on the tip of my tongue. Not dissuaded I began to research the problem. Come to find out this is not an uncommon problem. However, the answer is.

As I was investigating, a memory came back to me, one I had not recalled for a while.  When I was in grade school, fourth grade to be exact, I had a couple of good friends. Yes, I did have friends. As chums do, we occasionally teased each other. I always brought my lunch to school. I had a Dukes of Hazard lunch box. My mom was great and packed it for me. I was careful to eat everything she packed. I am not afraid of food. When I would return home mom unpacked and cleaned my lunch box so it was ready for the next day.

One day at school I had taken my time and eaten all that my mommy had packed for me. I even drank every bit of juice out of the thermos. After lunch I put my lunch box back in the classroom and went to recess. I suspected nothing. Later that evening, I was at home and I hear my mother scream. When mom screams something is wrong, especially when your name follows the scream. Apparently my “friends” had captured a crawdad at recess and the only container they knew to put it in was my thermos. My mother was not impressed by the placement of their trophy. After discarding the crawdad, mom cleaned the thermos and I continued to use it.

So, the answer to get crawdads out of your yard; have a lot of friends who drink out of thermoses. Kids do not try that at home.

A little background on crawdads. They are also known as crayfish, crawfish, freshwater crab, and other names if you have ever been pinched by one. There are 338 species in the United States and over 550 species worldwide. The worlds largest crayfish is the Tasmanian species.  They can get as large as eight pounds. That one ought to attract some rather large fish.

Crawfish can be quite beneficial. They serve as food for a large number of aquatic and terrestrial animals. They consume both live and dead plant and animal material. In the right balance they have an important role in ponds, streams, lakes and other areas. However, large number of crawfish can cause damage to ponds and lakes. Their burrowing can cause leaks and weaken the structural integrity of dams. When this happens control measures need to be implemented such as increasing natural predators (large fish and others) and trapping.

Crawdads can be quite a nuisance in yards. As a crawdad burrows it forms a cone-shaped mound. These mounds can be unpleasant to look at and hard on lawn mowers. When it comes to eliminating crawdads out of yards, there is no good answer. You could increase the coon population but then they get in my feed wagon. Trapping in a yard is a little unrealistic. So what is the answer? Moving is an option but one you probably don’t want to do.

There are no pesticides labeled for crayfish. So chemical treatments of crayfish are not recommended. Chemical treatments can threaten water quality and have the potential to kill beneficial plants and animals as well as pest.

The only thing left is home remedies. There are several out there but one I will share with you. This is from Lee Townsend of the University of Kentucky Extension and is suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For burrow treatment of crayfish use sodium hydroxide (lye) at the rate of 2-3 pellets per burrow and close the burrow with your foot and soil. Hand and eye protection is recommended when applying lye.

Another option is to put a pond in your front yard and stock it with some really big fish. Two benefits to this one, you already have plenty of fish bait and you do not have to drive far to go fishing.

The last option is not recommended by my mother. You can wait until dark after a rain storm and have a lot of thermoses ready. Remember, as life continues; keep looking between the barb wire.
Dale Helwig
Cherokee County Ag Agent

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