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7 Nuisance Aquatic Weed and Algae Species to Look Out For in Your Lakes and Ponds

We all benefit greatly from the beauty and value of our natural surroundings, but the rise in human influence has affected the delicate balance of many ecosystems across the country, allowing the introduction of nuisance, invasive and exotic species to ecosystems that cannot withstand their growth. Many of these non-beneficial species have choked out native plants in our local communities for more than a century, and continue to reproduce and spread through our nation’s waterways.

To enhance the native vegetation in your area, it’s crucial to accurately identify the nuisance, invasive or exotic plants that have taken root, understand the most effective and ecologically responsible treatment and disposal methods and work with a professional to develop a comprehensive management plan to prevent the unintended spread of these non-beneficial species.

Hydrilla
Hydrilla verticillata

hydrilla-invasive-species-1.jpgHydrilla is an invasive aquatic weed that is native to Asia, but has spread to every continent except Antarctica. It was originally found in the US in Florida in 1959, and has continually proliferated northward and westward throughout the country. Once introduced to a waterbody, hydrilla can rapidly choke out native vegetation and interfere with drainage and irrigation canals, boat docks and public water supplies. If it gets out of hand, hydrilla can be extremely difficult—and costly—to remove, meaning early detection is imperative for effective treatment results.

Management Best Practices
Hydrilla management strategies will depend on the goals of each individual waterbody. Mechanical control can reduce vegetated biomass, but will spread the plant through fragmentation. Grass carp and targeted systemic herbicides remain the preferred methods of control for this plant. Once the general growth is under control, spot treatments can be used on occasion.

Fanwort
Cabomba caroliniana

fanwort-invasive-species.jpgFanwort is an extremely dense submerged plant that can negatively affect water quality, disrupt recreational activities, threaten aquatic habitats and jeopardize a diverse assemblage of existing native plant vegetation. The plant is native to the southern region of the United States and is often found in slow-moving water, but is also able to thrive in northern regions. Fanwort’s delicate stems easily fragment and can re-sprout in both high nutrient and low nutrient waterbodies. When left untreated, the plant can deplete oxygen in the water, which may cause fish kills and harm native vegetation.

Management Best Practices
Though fanwort is very difficult to fully eradicate from a waterbody, aquatic herbicide treatments over the course of several seasons can help contain the plant without negatively impacting other wildlife and vegetation native to the area. The introduction of grass carp to the waterbody may also be an effective natural solution.

Curly-leaf Pondweed
Potamogeton crispus

curleyleaf-pondweed-invasive-species.jpgNative to Eurasia, Africa and Australia, curly-leaf pondweed was first introduced in the Great Lakes region of the United States in the 1800s. Unlike most plants, curly-leaf pondweed thrives in low-lit water and can be seen in late fall and early spring, allowing it to get a head start on most vegetation and create a surface mat that deprives other plants of oxygen. Due to its turions, which are overwintering storage buds that can hitch a ride on boats, fishing gear and animals, the pondweed has reproduced and spread throughout nutrient-rich waters in most of the northern and southern regions of the country.

Management Best Practices
The introduction of grass carp may be an effective natural solution to curly-leaf pondweed overgrowth if it is a legal option in your state. A proactive approach to gain long-term control of the nuisance plant may also be the use of a slow-acting systemic herbicide with a prolonged exposure period. An effective management strategy will provide comprehensive techniques to prevent turions and plant fragments from displacement by recreational crafts and lake visitors.

Eurasian Watermilfoil
Myriophyllum spicatum

eurasian-watermilfoil-invasive-species.jpgEurasian Watermilfoil was accidentally introduced to the United States from Europe in the early 1900s and has since spread, likely on water sports equipment, across the Mid-Western states. Milfoil plants have feather-like leaves, and are capable of thriving in wide ranges of aquatic habitats, as long as enough light is available. Eurasian watermilfoil can typically be found in nutrient-rich lakes, often creating vast mats of floating canopy that crowds out native vegetation.

Management Best Practices
The plant can rapidly spread due to its ability to reproduce from fragments, which can make mechanical removal an ineffective management solution. Aquatic herbicide treatments, which are performed via boat and subsurface injection to target growth areas, can be effective. In recreational waterbodies, visitors should also clean off aquatic equipment after use to ensure plant fragments are not transported elsewhere.

Toxic Blue-Green Algae
Cyanobacteria

bluegreen-algae-invasive-species.jpgCommonly referred to as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria produce blooms that have the appearance of spilled paint on the surface of a lake or pond. There are many different species of blue-green algae, but the most commonly detected are Anabaena, Aphanizomenon, Microcystis and Planktothrix, which can grow quickly when the water is warm and enriched with nutrients. Common concerns associated with blue-green algae are taste and odor compounds and the production of a toxin that can contaminate drinking water and endanger pets, humans and wildlife.

Management Best Practices
In order to restore a pond or lake with a cyanobacteria bloom, aggressive and immediate action needs to take place, followed by water quality manipulation and regular maintenance. Treatments should be conducted with algaecides specifically geared at treating blue-green algae and be followed with continued monitoring. Because most cyanobacteria blooms occur when nutrient loading is very high, lake and pond managers should be diligent in preventing excess nutrients from entering their waterbody.

Duckweed and Watermeal
Lemnoideae/Wolffia spp.

duckweed-invasive-species.jpgDuckweed is a floating aquatic plant found in still or slow moving nutrient rich waterbodies. When people talk about duckweed, they are commonly referring to one of five species: giant duckweed, common duckweed, landoltia duckweed, mosquito fern/azolla or watermeal. When left unmanaged, duckweed can rapidly reproduce, developing a thick mat on the surface of a lake or pond, which can lead to fish kills and endangerment to other wildlife.

Management Best Practices
Small infestations of duckweed may be suitable for biological treatment methods, including the addition of Triploid Grass Carp to the waterbody. Improving water movement by installing a fountain or submersed aeration system can also help. A comprehensive management plan that decreases the nutrients in a lake or pond may also help reduce the impact of the plant. For more severe infestations, herbicide applications should be considered.

Phragmites
Phragmites australis

phragmites-invasive-species.jpgPhragmites australis, or common reed, is a tall grass and highly invasive species that can plague lakes, ponds, marshes and wetlands across the country. When left untreated, the perennial grass can grow up to 16 feet tall and form dense impenetrable monocultures. The plant thrives by taking up space, creating a complex root system and secreting an acid in to the soil that helps it outcompete and destroy other plant species. As a result, area wildlife can struggle to find food within the ecosystem.

Management Best Practices
With a diligent, multifaceted approach successful phragmites management is possible. Traditionally, the main focus of a phragmites management program is herbicide treatment in the fall followed by mechanical removal or burning. During the fall, the plants take up more herbicide than at any other time of the year because of the translocation process, when the plants are sending all their sugars and nutrients to their rhizomes for the winter.

Developing a Regular Maintenance Plan

There are many ways to manage and prevent nuisance and invasive aquatic vegetation, but one of the most crucial elements to an invasive species management program is to limit nutrient influx and prevent the introduction of any invasive species through diligence and careful attention to your lake or pond. It is important to conduct regular inspections, and seek out professionals who understand the challenges and considerations in managing wetland and upland habitats for invasive plant species. Once invasive vegetation is discovered, a professional will accurately identify the plant so that a targeted and sustainable management plan can be put in place. The early detection of problematic plants will allow for more effective management and prevent irreversible spread of the undesirable vegetation while restoring balance to aquatic ecosystems.

Eliminate Weeds & Algae

Contact us today at 888.840.LAKE today to find out how a proactive water quality monitoring program can be tailored to your unique needs and goals.

SOLitude Lake Management is committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, mechanical harvesting, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat assessments, invasive species management and nuisance wildlife management. Lake, pond and fisheries management services, consulting, and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.



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