Crayfish or Crawfish adopting a defensive posture at Turkey Foot Spring in Crawfish Springs near Antioch, Louisiana.

Painted Devil Crayfish or Crawfish adopting a defensive posture at Turkey Foot Spring in Crawfish Springs near Antioch, Louisiana. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

Box Turtle asleep in patch of sunshine

Box Turtle asleep in patch of sunshine

Crayfish or Crawfish are feisty freshwater crustaceans that resemble small lobsters. America has over 330 species of Crawfish apparently, and 34 of them live in Louisiana where two varieties are a popular food item and important to the economy. They are eaten boiled or with their tails as key ingredients in sumptuous dishes such as Etouffee or Bienville.   Crawfish are decapod crustaceans, like lobsters, mostly 3 or 4 inches long and they can sometimes be seen traversing the forest floor or creek bed like little armoured vehicles. They dig burrows in damp muddy areas casting the mud into ‘spires’ around their burrow entrances. Mostly we see these signs of their activity rather than the architects themselves.

This morning I took my Lumix Fz48 with a macro filter for a walk down through the woods at Crawfish Springs and enjoyed the following interesting encounters:

A slender young Phasmid (Stick Insect).

Slender young phasmid on American Beautyberry bush.

Slender young phasmid on American Beautyberry bush.

Eastern Box Turtle asleep in a patch of sunlight at Crawfish Springs.

Eastern Box Turtle asleep in a patch of sunlight at Crawfish Springs.

A snoozing Box Turtle! I was delighted to see one abroad (I hesitate to say active) at about 11.30, normally they are crepuscular and emerge from their burrows to feed off fungi. This is a new specimen, the curious wear and tear on its shell is distinctive.

A spikey Crab Spider that dangled off my hat brim for a while until I put him on this leaf.

Underside of a spikey Crab Spider that dangled off my hat brim for a while until I put him on this leaf.

Three quarter view of the Crab Spider.

Three quarter view of the Crab Spider.

Then I was also very pleased to see something scurrying in the leaf litter at Turkey Foot Spring, which is currently more of a seep, really. Jade green with orange trim and a perky aspect, the Crawfish posed defensively for my photography.

Crawfish near spire photo and copyright C.Paxton

Crawfish near spire, photo and copyright C.Paxton

I miss my Sigma, but the Lumix did pretty well. I wish I’d taken my Fz70 as well, but there’s always next time!

Painted Crawfish photo and copyright C.Paxton

Painted Crawfish photo and copyright C.Paxton

I have contacted Dr. Fetzner author of The crayfish and lobster taxonomy browser to ask him for an identification. He kindly responded very promptly with the following information:

“A very nice specimen.  It looks like you have the Painted Devil Crayfish, Cambarus (Lacunicambarus) ludovicianus.  It is a species that digs burrows and spends most of its life underground.  This species can be found throughout most of Louisiana where the water table is close to the surface.”

Fetzner, J. W., Jr.  (2005).  The crayfish and lobster taxonomy browser: A global taxonomic resource for freshwater crayfish and their closest relatives.  Accessed: 1 July 2015.  http://iz.carnegiemnh.org/crayfish/NewAstacidea/