The Chinese mitten crab is a light brown crustacean with a distinct pair of hairy, white-tipped claws. Native to East Asia, the invasive species has been reported in small numbers in the Chesapeake Bay.
The Chinese mitten crab has a light brown, square-shaped carapace (shell) can reach width of up to 10 centimeters and features four lateral spines. Males have a V-shaped abdomen, while females have a U-shaped abdomen. The crab's legs are twice as long as the width of its shell, and its hairy, white-tipped claws resemble mittens. It has a distinctive notch located between its eyes.
The catadromous species inhabits brackish and freshwater rivers and estuaries, but migrates into saltwater environments to reproduce. The Chinese mitten crab is the only crab found in the fresh waters of North America.
Native to East Asia, the Chinese mitten crab can be found on coasts from Japan to the mainland of China, the Korean Peninsula and along the Yellow Sea. It can also be found on the coasts of northern and eastern Europe and the United States, and has been reported in small numbers in the Chesapeake Bay.
This crab is omnivorous, feeding on aquatic plants, algae, detritus, fish eggs and marine invertebrates.
Common predators include fish, frogs and birds.
The catadromous species migrates into saltwater environments in order to reproduce, with males arriving to mating territories first. Females lay between 250,000 and 1 million eggs that adhere to part of her abdomen. Over the winter, females remain under deep water as the eggs develop. Once eggs hatch, larvae (called zoea) spend one to two months in brackish water before migrating upstream to develop into adults.