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Crawfish? Crawdads? Mudbugs? Where all these names came from

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HOUSTON – Crawfish season is upon us here in the South! But did you know that crawfish is known to have more than one name?

There are so many names: crayfish, crawdads, mudbugs, ditchbugs, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, and yabbies.

The Dictionary of American English, or DARE, surveyed several ways in which different crawfish names were inspired by different dialects of the South.

Historically, “crayfish” and “crawfish” come from an old French word “escrevisse”, which was modified over time.

According to a study by North Carolina State Ph.D student Joshua Katz, “crayfish” is more used in the northern U.S. states, while “crawfish” is mostly used in the south, more so in the central Gulf Coast. “Crawdad” is used more in the midwestern states and is not common in Louisiana.

“One of the areas in which regional variation seems to be especially alive and well is in names for fish and other aquatic creatures,” said Sam Irwin, author of Louisiana Crawfish, A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean on southernkitchen.com, “So, this variety of names is not at all surprising.”

The earliest evidence of the use of the name “mudbug” was 1955, mostly in Louisiana and eastern Texas. However, according to Irwin, farmers discouraged the term because it became misleading to the public. The city of Shreveport is the only city to date to commonly use the name “mudbug."

“The Louisiana Department of Agriculture consulted a marketing firm to help raise awareness of crawfish. They strictly said, ‘do not use ‘mudbug’ if you want to have a larger presence,” said Irwin.

Whether you call them “crayfish”, “crawdad”, or “mudbug”, no matter how you boil them, we can still agree that this is the best season in the south.