If you live in Louisiana, you have certainly seen one of these little crawfish “chimneys.”
The most common species of crawfish builds their little burrows during the late summer and spends most of the fall and winter underground in water-filled tunnels. They move to open water in the spring where they can be found in roadside ditches and swamps, ponds, bayous, and lakes.
Why do crawfish build burrows?
It is thought that the crawfish has to burrow in order to keep warm and safe through the winter months. They have to stay in the water, so they dig deep enough that they are below the water table. Their “home” then becomes submerged in water. If the weather becomes too dry or too cold, they burrow deeper. Their tunnels can be as deep as three feet. Sometimes they burrow straight down and sometimes they have little side tunnels with rooms. The female crawfish will give birth in her burrow and carry them under her tail until she releases them in open water in the spring.
What are crawfish good for?
Crawfish are good at breaking down organic material. They eat on leaves and stems. They get their protein from microscopic organisms.
Crawfish are an important part of the Louisiana economy, where they keep fisherman working, as well as packing plants and restaurants. These little critters are shipped to restaurants around the nation so everyone can enjoy crawfish dishes, such as etoufee.
In Louisiana, it is a commonplace summer activity to invite your family and friends to a crawfish boil, where they are cooked in a large pot with vegetables.
Below are a couple of Louisiana crawfish dishes.