Rusty Crayfish

Rusty Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)  Rusty crayfish are an aggressive species with the ability to alter the aquatic food chain in non-native ecosystems. Thought to be native to the Ohio River Basin, the rusty crayfish was likely introduced by anglers who dumped their leftover bait into waterways. Rusty crayfish are now found in Michigan, Massachusetts, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and all New England states except Rhode Island.


The impacts of rusty crayfish are severe and can reverberate through the aquatic food chain. First, rusty crayfish are much more aggressive than native crayfish species. Therefore, they often displace native crayfish species which are an important food source for fish. Rusty crayfish can also reduce aquatic plant abundance and species diversity. In turn, this can impact aquatic invertebrates (which provide food for fish and ducks) that rely on submerged aquatic plants for food and cover. Submerged aquatic plants also provide food and shelter for young gamefish, nesting areas for fish, and erosion control.


Rusty crayfish looks similar to native crayfish species but can be identified by more robust claws, and by dark, rusty spots on each side of their carapace (shell).


The best way to manage rusty crayfish is to prevent furthering their spread. You can help by using bait native to the waterbody you fish in and by never dumping leftover bait or unwanted aquarium pets into waterways.

For more information visit
The University of Minnesota Extension 


Prevent the introduction of invasive species into the SLELO PRISM.

Rapidly detect new and recent invaders and eliminate all individuals within a specific area.

Share resources, including funding personnel, equipment, information, and expertise.

Collect, utilize, and share information regarding surveys, infestations, control methods, monitoring, and research.

Control invasive species infestations by using best management practices, methods and techniques to include: ERADICATION (which is to eliminate all individuals and the seed bank from an area), CONTAINMENT (which is reducing the spread of established infestations from entering an uninfested area) and SUPPRESSION which is to reduce the density but not necessarily the total infested area.

Develop and implement effective restoration methods for areas that have been degraded by invasive species and where suppression or control has taken place.

Increase public awareness and understanding of invasive species.

Develop and implement innovative technologies that help us to better understand, visualize, alleviate or manage invasive species and their impacts or that serve to strengthen ecosystem function and/or processes.

Rob Williams
PRISM Coordinator

Megan Pistolese
Outreach and Education

Brittney Rogers
Aquatic Invasive Species

Robert Smith
Terrestrial Invasive Species