Use of physical blockers to control invasive red swamp crayfish in burrows

Management of Biological Invasions
By: , and 



The red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii is native to the southeast United States but has successfully invaded nearly every continent around the world. Although physical, biological, and chemical controls are employed to reduce or eliminate populations in open-water systems, terrestrial burrows provide a potential refuge from aquatic control treatments. We conducted burrow trials to test whether two physical blocker treatments would kill P. clarkii in their burrows. Bentonite clay (a sealing agent) and expanding foam (an insulating sealant) were each applied to 37 crayfish burrows, and 36 burrows served as treatment controls (i.e., 110 total burrows). Burrows were excavated 48 hr after the application of the physical blockers to assess the status of crayfish in treated and control burrows. There was 74% mortality of crayfish in occupied burrows treated with bentonite clay, 62% in burrows treated with expanding foam, and 6% mortality in control burrows. We believe bentonite clay should continue to be field-tested; however, because expanding foam is toxic to aquatic organisms and is expected to persist in the environment, we do not believe it is a suitable physical blocker for the control of invasive crayfish in burrows. Bentonite clay applications likely will not need permits, will mitigate damage to banks and levees caused by burrowing crayfish, and can be used with other control agents such as pesticides. However, the use of physical blockers may be limited at field sites that have burrows with complex morphologies. We believe the use of bentonite clay to control invasive crayfish in terrestrial burrows will provide resource managers with an effective tool for their integrative pest management programs.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Use of physical blockers to control invasive red swamp crayfish in burrows
Series title Management of Biological Invasions
DOI 10.3391/mbi.2023.14.4.09
Volume 14
Issue 4
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher Reabic
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 21 p.
First page 709
Last page 729
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