The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Procambarus acutus
Procambarus acutus
(White River crawfish)
Native Transplant

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Procambarus acutus (Girard, 1852)

Common name: White River crawfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Procambarus acutus is a species complex (Hobbs 1989). Procambarus zonangulus and P. acutus cuevachicae are distinct species that were formerly grouped with P. acutus (Taylor and Schuster 2004).

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Body color is dark red with a black wedge on dorsal abdomen (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Body color can vary; smaller individuals can be brown with mottled spots (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Chelae possess numerous white tubercles and small tubercles cover the carapace (Taylor and Schuster 2004; Taylor et al. 2015). Procambarus acutus has long, narrow chelae with no space between dactyl and propodus when closed (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Areola is open, but narrow (Walls 2009). Procambarus acutus is often confused with P. clarkii, but there are distinct morphological differences, including a more open areola on P. acutus than on P. clarkii (Larson and Olden 2011). Without crayfish identification experience, P. acutus is indistinguishable from P. zonangulus (Swecker et al. 2010). Procambarus zonangulus has tapered gonopods, while P. acutus gonopods are a constant width (Walls 2009). In most P. zonangulus the ventral surface of the chelae is whitish, while they are a uniform color in P. acutus (Walls 2009).

Size: 7-13 cm total length (USFWS, 2015)

Native Range: Procambarus acutus has a disjunct native distribution which includes the Atlantic Slope, as well as the southern Great Lakes drainages to the Gulf of Mexico (Hobbs 1989; Taylor and Schuster 2004). On the Atlantic Slope, P. acutus occurs from Maine to Georgia (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Procambarus acutus also occurs from southern Wisconsin and Michigan through Kentucky and Missouri to western Texas and the Florida panhandle (Hobbs 1989; Taylor and Schuster 2004).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Procambarus acutus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL200620156Lower Coosa; Middle Chattahoochee-Walter F; Middle Coosa; Patsaliga; Sepulga; Upper Choctawhatchee
AR199620199Beaver Reservoir; Cache; Frog-Mulberry; Illinois; Little Red; Middle White; Spring; Strawberry; Upper Black
CA192719272California Region; San Luis Rey-Escondido
CO198219821Big Thompson
FL200520122Blackwater; Myakka
GA193820104Broad; Lower Ocmulgee; St. Marys; Upper Flint
KY1973200411Barren; Highland-Pigeon; Licking; Lower Cumberland; Lower Green; Lower Kentucky; Lower Ohio-Bay; Lower Tennessee; Middle Green; Rough; Salt
ME198919891New England Region
MD201020103Lower Potomac; Monocacy; Patuxent
MO1985201819Blackwater; Current; Harry S. Truman Reservoir; James; Lake of the Ozarks; Little Osage; Lower Grand; Lower Marais Des Cygnes; Lower Missouri; Lower Missouri-Moreau; Meramec; South Grand; Spring; Spring; Tarkio-Wolf; Upper Black; Upper Chariton; Upper Grand; Upper St. Francis
NJ201420141Middle Delaware-Musconetcong
NY199620214Lower Hudson; Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead; Oak Orchard-Twelvemile; Seneca
NC197420017Fishing; Lower Yadkin; Pigeon; Upper Cape Fear; Upper Neuse; Upper Tar; Watauga, North Carolina, Tennessee
OK199319952Illinois; Lower Canadian-Deer
PA2004202214Allegheny; Conemaugh; Conococheague-Opequon; Lehigh; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna-Swatara; Mahoning; Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead; Schuylkill; Shenango; Upper Ohio-Beaver; Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna; Youghiogheny
WA200920222Lake Washington; San Juan Islands
WV200420213Gauley; Lower Kanawha; Raccoon-Symmes

Table last updated 6/20/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.


White River crayfish mate in early spring and fall and extrude their eggs in spring (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Procambarus acutus will burrow during dry summer and fall seasons (Taylor and Schuster 2004). These burrows provide protection to females with eggs (Page 1985, CABI 2015). Although they only spawn once each year, P. acutus have relatively high fecundity. Mazlum and Eversole (2004) found that females may lay as many as 556 eggs depending on size and nutritional status.

P. acutus have a generalist diet and feed opportunistically (CABI, 2015). However, there is little else reported about the White River Crayfish diet overall.

While Hobbs (1989) reports P. acutus in slow to moderate flow streams, this species is also found in a variety of habitats, including rivers, ditches, creeks, and swamps (Taylor and Schuster 2004).

Means of Introduction: Probable bait bucket or aquaculture introductions with the California introduction occurring as a laboratory release (Bouchard 1977; Taylor and Schuster 2004).

Status: Established in Alabama (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), Arkansas (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), Georgia (Hobbs 1981; Skelton 2010), Indiana (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), Kentucky (Taylor and Schuster 2004), Maryland (Swecker et al. 2010), Missouri (Illinois DiStefano et al. 2015; Natural History Survey 2017), North Carolina (Cooper 2002; Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), New York (Mills et al. 1996; M. Caldwell, pers. comm.), Pennsylvania (K. Kelly, pers. comm.), Wisconsin (GBIF 2013), and West Virginia (Loughman 2007). Failed in California (Bouchard 1977), Colorado (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), Connecticut (Beauchene 2011), Florida (GBIF 2013), and Oklahoma (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Unknown in Massachusetts and Maine (Hobbs 1989). Unknown in Washington, but most likely failed as no additional collections have been made since 2010 (Larson and Olden 2011).

Impact of Introduction: Unknown. However, DiStefano et al. (2015) reported that P. acutus may displace native crayfish.

Remarks: Procambarus acutus is an economically important crayfish used in aquaculture and as bait (Taylor and Schuster 2004).

References: (click for full references)

Allert, A.L., M.J. McKee, R.J. DiStefano, and J.F. Fairchild. 2016. Evaluation of chemical control for nonnative crayfish at a warm-water fish production hatchery. Freshwater Crayfish 22(1):81-93. https://doi.org/10.5869/fc.2016.v22-1.81.

Beauchene, M. 2011. Crayfish distribution project. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, Hartford, CT. http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/water/water_quality_management/monitoringpubs/2011_crayfishdist.pdf. Accessed on 09/18/2017.

Bouchard, R.W. 1977. Distribution, systematic status and ecological notes on five poorly known species of crayfish in western North America (Decapoda: Astacidae and Cambaridae). Freshwater Crayfish 3:409-423.

CABI. 2015. Procambarus acutus acutus [original text by F. Gherardi]. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. Available: http://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/67841. Accessed 10/31/2018

Cooper, J.E. 2002. North Carolina crayfishes (Decapoda: Cambaridae): Notes on distribution, taxonomy, life history, and habitat. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science 118(3):167-180.

DiStefano, R. J., E.M. Imhoff, D.A. Swedberg, and T.C. Boersig III. 2015. An analysis of suspected crayfish invasions in Missouri, USA: evidence for the prevalence of short-range translocations and support for expanded survey efforts. Management of Biological Invasions 6(4):395-411. http://dx.doi.org/10.3391/mbi.2015.6.4.08

GBIF. 2013. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Database. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. http://www.gbif.org. Accessed on 09/18/2017.

Hein, C., J. Vander Zanden, J.J. Magnuson. 2007. Intensive trapping and increased fish predation cause massive population decline of an invasive crayfish. Freshwater Biology 52(6): 1134-1146

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

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

Illinois Natural History Survey. 2017. Illinois Natural History Survey Collection Databases. Illinois Natural History Survey. https://biocoll.inhs.illinois.edu/portalx/collections/index.php.
Accessed on 08/15/2017.

iMapInvasives. 2016. Pennsylvania iMapInvasives. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Pittsburgh, PA. https://login.imapinvasives.org/paimi/map/. Accessed on 09/18/2017.

Larson, E.R., and J.D. Olden. 2011. The state of crayfish in the Pacific Northwest. Fisheries 36(2):60-73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1577/03632415.2011.10389069

Loughman, Z. 2007. First record of Procambarus (Ortmannicus) acutus (White River crayfish) in West Virginia, with notes on its natural history. Northeastern Naturalist 14(3):495-500.

Mills, E.L., D.L. Strayer, M.D. Scheuerell, and J.T. Carlton. 1996. Exotic species in the Hudson River basin: A history of invasions and introductions. Estuaries 19(4):814-823.

Moorhouse, TP., A.E. Poole, L.C. Evans, D.C. Bradley, D.W. Macdonald. Intensive removal of signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) from rivers increases numbers and taxon richness of macroinvertebrate species. Ecology and Evolution 4(4): 494-504

Page, L.M. 1985. The crayfishes and shrimps (Decapoda) of Illinois. Volume 33. State of Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, Champaign, IL.

Pennsylvania iMap Invasives. 2017. Invertebrates. https://www.paimapinvasives.org. Accessed on 09/29/2017.

Skelton, C.E. 2010. History, status, and conservation of Georgia crayfishes. Southeastern Naturalist 9(3):127-138.

Swecker, C.D., T.D. Jones, J.V. Kilian, and L.F. Roberson. 2010. Key to the crayfish of Maryland. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD. http://dnr.maryland.gov/streams/Documents/KeytotheCrayfishesofMD_8_18_10.pdf. Accessed on 09/18/2017.

Taylor, C.A., and G.A. Schuster. 2004. The crayfishes of Kentucky. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL.

Taylor, C. A., G. A. Schuster, and D. B. Wylie. 2015. Field guide to crayfishes of the Midwest. Illinois Natural History Survey Manual 15, Champaign, IL.

Walls, J.G. 2009. Crawfishes of Louisiana. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA.

Author: Durland Donahou, A.

Revision Date: 9/12/2019

Citation Information:
Durland Donahou, A., 2024, Procambarus acutus (Girard, 1852): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=216, Revision Date: 9/12/2019, Access Date: 6/21/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/21/2024].

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