HOUSTON -- Crawfish are smaller at Ragin Cajun and other restaurants that sell the popular seafood treat right now.

Suppliers and restaurant owners said a colder winter has hurt size and supply.

This year has been the worst winter we've had in nine years, said Luke Mandola, Sr., owner of Ragin Cajun. They don't grow in cold. When the water's cold they go into the mud.

Supply is down. Demand is just as high, as it typically is during this time of year when people celebrate Mardi Gras and the return of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. This year suppliers in the area are charging about $4.50 per pound. Last year, they charged about $3.50 Restaurants are passing the higher prices on to customers.

At Mandola s Ragin Cajun, three pounds of crawfish with all the potato and corn on the cob fixings cost about $28. Last year the spread cost about $22.

Ain't gonna eat as many crawfish this year. That's what it sounds like, said Vincent Alonso, laughing.

But some crawfish lovers say nothing will slow them down when it comes to consuming crawfish.

I'm gonna eat it no matter what, said Eric Pickett. I don't really pay attention to prices. It s like milk and gas to me .. I gotta have it, he said.

We ate some this past weekend at the house, said Jeremy Ross. My father-in-law bought 'em and he was complaining about how the prices went up. I didn't have to pay for 'em so I didn't care much.

Crawfish suppliers said since the mud bug season lasts throughout the summer, the supply will be back up as soon as temperatures start to rise. When that happens, they expect prices to come down.

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