Crayfish (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

This is the first week of summer camps at the field station where I work and I’ve been doing daily citizen science programs with the middle schoolers that make up this week’s campers. Today we got into the stream to assess water quality, my favorite thing to do with groups like this! We didn’t find many bugs, just some caddisflies and a crane fly larva, the normal sort of condition of our stream, but the kids found a whole lot of crayfish. This was the biggest one we found:

crayfish

Crayfish – rawr!

Sadly, the kids thought this little guy was WAY more exciting than the tiny net-building caddisflies we found, but I suppose we don’t all appreciate the gloriousness of caddisflies… :)

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

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12 thoughts on “Crayfish (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

  1. Ahh, nothing like collecting benthic organisms! Reminds me of my summers teaching outdoor science ed. for the Upward Bound math/science program. Such amazing times were those.

    What a great activity for your kids! Crayfish are flashy and dangerous and exciting. Can’t compete with nymphs and larvae. Perhaps the later needs a PR rep…

  2. I’m glad that I am not the only one to have the “crayfish problem”. I regularly take students to a local river for sampling and I specifically have to tell them that their goal is not to catch as many crayfish as possible, but rather to catch as many different kinds of invertebrates as they can. A student can have a bucket full of water scorpions, casemaker caddisflies, and giant water bugs and even that will be of less interest to them than someone across the river/pond yelling “CRAYFISH!” at the top of their lungs. The only things that cause a similar reaction are fish, tadpoles, and leaches. I think it has to do with the fact that almost every student already knows the identity of those creatures. Knowing the identity of something is somehow more exciting than finding out about something new. Oh well…

    • Interesting hypothesis about why the kids find the crayfish so exciting! You may be on to something, though I think in this particular case the crayfish were most popular because the camp was mostly boys and they were enjoying showing off for the girls by picking up the big crayfish in the stream because most of the girls were scared of them. Then it turned into a bit of a competition to see who could get the biggest crayfish, and the one in the photo was the definite winner. So fun though, even if they don’t appreciate the caddisflies as much as they should. :)

  3. Crayfish are awesome – we used to catch them in the creek near our school too! No, nymphs & larvae really can’t compete. But maybe, just maybe, ONE kid will find them more fascinating than crayfish, and a future entomologist will be born!

    • Exactly! And the kid who found the giant crayfish was the same kid who spent the entire length of the mini biodiversity survey we did a couple days before looking for bugs AND caught the most dragonflies at the pond the day we did that. He might not have cared much about the caddisflies when the crayfish were so much more impressively sized, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t become at least a biologist, if not an entomologist.

  4. Crawdads were my first love. Regional sidenote: in Arkansas we called them ‘crawdads’ (or ditch diggers, mudbugs). When I moved to Baton Rouge they were ‘crawfish’. Say ‘crayfish’ and you were either a scientist or a Yankee.

    • Yeah, the different spellings of crayfish/crawdad/crawfish/etc are very interesting! My dad tended to overshadow my mom when it came to the common names we gave things as kids and he called them crayfish, thus I call them crayfish. That said, my dad was neither a Yank (he grew up in the south) or a scientist (software engineer), nor were my grandparents (who were, incidentally, both from Arkansas) or my mom. I still don’t know where crayfish came from! I now live 60 miles from where my dad grew up and I hear crawdad most often from the locals, which it makes me wonder if he adopted a different name for them at some point… I did, after all, switch from lightning bugs to fireflies at some point!

  5. Om. Being in the moment with what you find is probably more important than finding what you set out to hunt. A good dose of weirdness and wonder in nature is such powerful mental health magic for modern kids. Keep on doing what you are doing!

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