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Searcy, Ark. –
In the springtime, especially after a rainy season I receive requests from people who have mounds of soil in their yard. These
mounds are referred to as chimneys built by crayfish. As you might imagine, crayfish
need saturated conditions to survive, so, where you have naturally-occurring high
water tables, where people over-water their lawn and artificially raise the water
table, or in years of exceptional rainfall, we see conditions that are favorable to
and thus attract crayfish colonies.
The complaints we receive typically are not related to damage to vegetation, but to
aesthetic concerns (i.e., the unsightly “chimneys” and soil mounds) and negative effects
to lawn maintenance equipment (i.e., mowers being dulled after the blades hit these
soils mounds). There actually is not much evidence in the scientific literature that
crayfish cause significant damage to plants, as they tend to be detritus feeders and
scavengers mostly, though some species are more carnivorous than herbivorous. So,
we’re dealing primarily with people’s concern about appearance more than anything
The take home message? I can't offer any real solutions. There is nothing registered
as a repellent. Additionally, there is an abundance of evidence showing that unauthorized
use of such chemical ‘home remedy’ applications creates potential risk of impaired plant
growth, contamination of local water sources, and secondary hazard exposure to other
You can try to correct the drainage of the site to promote dryer conditions. Because
crayfish need saturated conditions near or slightly below the soil surface, lowering
the water table or dispersing surface water to dry out the upper soil profile usually
will make conditions less tolerable or less preferable for crayfish.
In normal years, that might be a possible approach for consideration, but, in years
with persistent heavy rains, it is not possible to draw down local surface water very
When the soil dries up the chimneys disappear.
Take advantage of gardening information available online at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/default.aspx. The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal
access/affirmative action institution. For additional information or fact sheets
on building compost bins, you can contact your local county extension service. You
can also follow Sherri Sanders on Facebook @UAEX.WhiteCountyAgriculture .
By Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service2400 Old Searcy Landing Road, Searcy AR 72143 (501) 268-5394 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.