Hidden dangers in your lake can quickly become aggressive and destroy the native plants and animals that once thrived there. One of these dangers is watermilfoil or aquatic weeds. It’s an exotic invasive perennial that can multiply astronomically - one piece of milfoil can turn into hundreds of millions of new plants in less than a year!
Because of the ease of infiltration and potential for the harm these plants can create, it’s crucial to cut them off as soon as possible at the source. Here are 4 tips for dealing with milfoil that will help you prevent devastation to your lake.
4 Ways to Reduce or Prevent Aquatic Weed
1. Learn how to identify the invasive species. Not every plant in the lake is bad. Some of them are necessary for the ecosystems to grow and thrive. But milfoil is invasive, which means it can edge out native plants and animals, destroy habitats, and even flood areas.
You can recognize this species because it will show up in patches where you can’t see any other growth happening. You’ll find leaves that look feathery in appearance that grow along a hollow stem. These stalks are usually submerged except for a tiny batch of flowers that often grow above the surface.
There are many species of milfoil and it can live in just about any temperature, light, and depth (up to 20 feet). Eurasian milfoil is especially infiltrative. But it’s difficult to tell the species apart without testing, so you should take aggressive control of any sign of this weed and report it to the environmental authorities.
2. Keep your water equipment clean. You may not have milfoil near your own beaches, but there’s a good chance that it exists somewhere in your lake or the lakes that you drive your boat, jet ski, or other water equipment on. Like any plant, the seeds are easy to spread and don’t require much more than the sun, water, and nutrients to grow wherever they are dropped.
To prevent the spread of this invasive species, invest in boat bottom cleaning services and other protocols that destroy the potential of new growth every time you use your water equipment.
3. Be careful with what you use if you’re fishing. Anglers aren’t immune to dealing with milfoil prevention. The bait that was unused, like worms and fish parts, should be disposed of in the trash instead of in the water to prevent the spread of aquatic organisms. Using hot water to rinse any water equipment, draining the rudders from your boat and fishing storage, and drying out the equipment you use before placing it back in even standing water is important.
4. Avoid using chemicals. You may be tempted to use bleach or other chemicals to clean your boat and water equipment, but this is not recommended. These chemicals can cause more environmental damage than the prevention of aquatic weeds could cause and create health hazards for animals and humans in the water.
It’s also not always effective against invasive aquatic species, so the damage you cause may not even be doing what you intended. There are also many rules and regulations that the professionals have to abide by and permits that have to be obtained before you can legally use chemicals in lakes.
Stop the Spread - You Can Help
Sometimes it can seem like nothing you do will be effective against these destructive invasive species, but by doing your part to control the spread, it’s possible to prevent or reduce the damage they can cause. Don’t give up - keep doing what you are doing and remember these tips when you’re fighting milfoil.