Crayfishes of Georgia Overview List of Georgia Species Species Lists by Drainage Crayfish Identification Keys by Drainage Ecology and Life History Links and Other Useful Information Glossary
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orconectes erichsonianus tank

Common Name: RETICULATE CRAYFISH

Scientific Name:  Orconectes (Crockerinus) erichsonianus Faxon

Rarity Ranks:  G5/S4

State Legal Status:  None

Federal Legal Status:  None

Description:  The overall color of the Reticulate Crayfish is light brown to olive with darker mottling.  There is a dark saddle in front of, and behind the areola.  The abdomen is darker than the cephalothorax and there is a thin reddish band at the rear of each abdominal segment.  The tips of the fingers of the claws are orangish and there is black pigment just behind the tips.  There is an obvious black spot where the moveable finger attaches to the palm and the outside edge of the claw is black as well.  There are two rows of tubercles along the mesial margin of the palm.  The areola is fairly wide and shaped much like an hourglass.  The rostrum is long, parallel-sided, and has a long sharp acumen and marginal spines or tubercles.  There is a single well developed cervical spine.  This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 88 mm (3.5 in).

Similar Species:  Based on the prominent black spot where the moveable finger attaches to the palm, the only species that could be confused with Reticulate Crayfish is the Coosa Spiny River Crayfish, Orconectes spinosus.  These two species have never been collected together in Georgia, but have both been found in the Chattooga River system and Pine Log Creek which is a tributary to the Coosawattee River.  Examination of the male first pleopod or the female annulus ventralis is required to separate these two species.

Habitat:  The Reticulate Crayfish is a stream dweller and can be found beneath rocks or woody debris throughout the streams in which it inhabits.

Diet:  No studies of the Reticulate Crayfish are known.  Crayfishes are considered opportunistic omnivores and likely feed on live and decaying vegetation, aquatic insect larvae, small fishes, and dead animal matter.

Life History:  Male Reticulate Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in all months except March, April, August, September, and October.  Five females carrying eggs were found in April and one with young in May.  Egg counts of three of these were 99, 255, and 347.  The smallest breeding male known is about 38 mm (1.5 in) and the smallest female carrying eggs is about 48 mm (1.9 in) in length (Hobbs 1981).

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:  Reticulate Crayfish ranges from southwestern Virginia to northeastern Alabama in the Tennessee River drainage.  In Georgia, it is found in tributaries to the Tennessee River in the northwestern part of the state and also in the Coosa River system.  In the Coosa, it is most common in the Chattooga River system, but there are collections from the lower Coosawattee, Armuchee Creek, and a tributary to the Coosa River (Hobbs 1981; 1989).

Threats:  This species is apparently secure across its range.

Conservation and Management Recommendations:  Conserving populations of the Reticulate Crayfish will require general watershed level protection measures, including the protection of riparian zones, control of sediment and nutrient runoff from farms and construction sites, and limiting the amount of impervious cover (e.g., pavement) within occupied watersheds.  Non-native crayfishes should never be used for bait; instead, anglers should use crayfishes collected from the river system where they will be fishing.  Unused bait of any kind should not be released back into Georgia waters. 

Selected References:

Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.

Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1989. An illustrated checklist of the American crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 480:1-236.

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.

orconectes erichsonianus map

Date Compiled or Updated:  September 2012

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