By Gregory B. Hladky
1:50 PM EDT, August 3, 2012
Look out folks, we’ve got Chinese crabs invading Greenwich and state officials ready to declare a quarantine for all of New Haven County over a little green bug.
The evil crustacean in question is the Chinese mitten crab (aka Eriocheir sinensis), a little bastard that state experts warn can “damage fishing gear, clog pumps and pipes, cause riverbank erosion through their activities and outcompete native species for food.”
One of the creatures – which can grow up to a foot across if you include the legs – was picked up in late June at the Mianus Pond fishway on the Mianus River by a local town conservation guy.
The quarantine of New Haven County would result from fears that the Emerald ash borer could spread across the state. EAB’s have already been spotted in Prospect, Bethany, Naugatuck and Beacon Falls and the concern is the bugs could devastate Connecticut’s ash trees.
State environmental officials are planning to prohibit any movement of anything ash-wood related out of New Haven County. That would include ash logs, ash “materials,” ash nursery stock and hardwood firewood. It also looks like there could be a parallel federal quarantine coming down soon.
A Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station hearing on the quarantine plan is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the Prospect Firehouse in on Route 69 in Prospect. Here's the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection release about the quarantine hearing and EABs.
Connecticut officials know the dangers those Emerald ash borers pose, but the Chinese mitten crab threat is something of a puzzler at this point.
These aquatic alien invaders from Asia were first discovered in North America in 1992 along the Pacific coast of the U.S. By 2005, they were turning up along our Atlantic coast and have crawled into the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and the Hudson River among other places.
State officials say the Greenwich discovery was the first confirmed sighting of a mitten crab in Connecticut, although there was a reported/unconfirmed sighting in Fairfield back in 2010.
The book on these little guys is that they spend much of their life in fresh water, walk rather than swim, have furry claws, brown-to-green carapaces (as in shell), a notch between the eyes, and the females can lay as many as a million eggs in a season.