For Texans, spring is synonymous with bluebonnets, warmer weather and crawfish season. But this year, lovers of the mud-burrowing crustacean may find themselves paying triple what they usually do to host a boil.

The crawfish industry is reporting a delayed season due to recent drought conditions and freezing temperatures in Louisiana and East Texas, where most live crawfish come from.

Two-minute impact

While the season typically starts in January and lasts until July, farmers in January only caught about 10% of their usual harvest, said distributor Russ T. “Crawdaddy” Smith of Louisiana Wild Crawfish & Catering.

On top of lower supply, the crop has been smaller than previous seasons, making them more difficult to eat and more likely to die in the eight-hour journey to Central Texas.

“We have to slow our roll," Smith said. "I’m still offering catering, but not on a mass scale like other years. ... It’s a question of ethics. If we go scraping the ponds now, there's not going to be any crawfish to breed for next year."

Mudbugs, another common nickname for crawfish, get their name from the way they burrow in the shallow, muddy ponds around rice paddies, Smith said. Louisiana’s drought conditions, which occurred during their peak breeding months last year, caused ponds to dry up or become too salty for the critter in some cases. On top of that, mid-January’s freezing weather reduced the already dwindling supply by starving them of oxygen under frozen ponds.

What restaurants are saying

Several local restaurants are bracing themselves for a slower, pricier start to the crawfish season.

While a plate of crawfish could cost customers as low as $7-$8 per pound in previous years, restaurateurs are looking at $16-$22 per pound just to break even, according to local vendors.

Willie’s Grill and Icehouse usually puts crawfish on the menu in January, but this year they waited until Super Bowl weekend for prices to cool down, Chief Concept Officer Marty Wadsworth said.

Catfish Parlour, an Austin-based seafood joint, was planning to offer crawfish on their Georgetown menu for the first time this year, but owner Chris Kerbow said it will likely have to wait due to the exorbitant prices.

Meanwhile, those still trying to get ahead of the demand this year had to take drastic measures, as many suppliers refused to sell in early January.

“Our owner himself was driving to Louisiana just to get the crawfish," HappyRito Seafood Manager Laura Rozo said. "And, when they show up here, half of them are dead, and we can’t sell them. ... Currently, we aren’t making a profit, but we hope that can turn around.”

Other restaurants, such as Louisiana Crab Shack, keep crawfish on the menu year-round by offering them frozen for the majority of the year or sourcing them from Asian countries.