Common Name: CREOLE PAINTED CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Orconectes (Buannulifictus) palmeri creolanus Creaser
Rarity Ranks: G5T4/Non-Native
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Creole Painted Crayfish is brown or light brown with abundant darker mottling. The claws are lighter than the body and are covered with dark speckling and larger splotches giving them a spotted appearance. The fingers of the claws are bluish-greenish and tipped in orange. There are red markings on the head region, at the joints of the legs, and along the rear margin of the abdominal segments. The areola is obliterated and there are two rows of tubercles along the mesial margin of the palm. The rostrum is parallel-side and has marginal spines or tubercles, and there is a single cervical spine or tubercle present. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 85 mm (3.3 in).
Similar Species: No other species that occurs with the Creole Painted Crayfish has an obliterated areola and claws that are light with dark spots.
Habitat: The Creole Painted Crayfish is a stream dweller and is usually found beneath rocks or woody debris. It can be found in slow or fast moving water.
Diet: Crayfishes are considered opportunistic omnivores and likely feed on live and decaying vegetation, aquatic insect larvae, small fishes, and dead animal matter.
Life History: A detailed life history study of Orconectes palmeri palmeri was conducted by Payne and Price (1983) on a population monitored in western Tennessee. They found males in reproductive condition from October through March. Females with eggs were found from February through April.
Survey Recommendations: Flipping larger rocks in just about any habitat in a stream should turn up this species. The animal can be pinned by hand or gently driven into a dipnet. Dipnetting through leaf packs could yield some specimens as well.
Range: The Creole Painted Crayfish is native to the Mississippi River basin in Louisiana and Mississippi. In Georgia it has become established in the Flint River system. It is most commonly found in the Flint River proper between Lake Blackshear and Lake Seminole, but is found in several Flint River tributaries and also above Lake Blackshear dam.
Threats: This species is apparently secure across its range.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: This species is introduced in the Flint River system and appears to be displacing the native White Tubercled Crayfish, Procambarus spiculifer (Sargent et al. 2011). Orconectes palmeri creolanus is most common in the mainstem Flint, but is now showing up in tributary streams. Of great concern is the threat to the Muckalee Crayfish, P. gibbus, which is found only in tributaries to the Flint (primarily Muckalee Creek). The Creole Painted Crayfish has not been found in Muckalee Creek yet, but if it is able to colonize that system, the persistence of the Muckalee Crayfish is in doubt. Under no circumstances should crayfishes be moved from one river to another. If using crayfish for bait, only use them in the stream in which they were captured. Ideally, any specimens of this species encountered should be collected and humanely euthanized by freezing.
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.
Payne, J.F. and J.O. Price. 1983. Studies on the life history and ecology of Orconectes palmeri palmeri (Faxon). Pp 183-191, in Freshwater Crayfish V, C.R. Goldman, ed. AVI Publishing, Westport, CT.
Sargent, L.W., S.W. Golladay, A.P. Covich, and S.P. Opsahl. 2011. Physicochemical habitat association of a native and a non-native crayfish in the lower Flint River, Georgia: implications for invasion success. Biological Invasions 13:499–511.
Taylor, C. A., G. A. Schuster, J. E. Cooper, R. J. DiStefano, A. G. Eversole, P. Hamr, H. H. Hobbs III, H. W. Robison, C. E. Skelton, and R. F. Thoma. 2007. A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries 32(8):372-389.
Date Compiled or Updated: October 2012