Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

November 12, 2013

Frog-bit invasion threatens state water plants

LANSING (AP) — An invasive plant is spreading in Michigan waters, according to a warning from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The European frog-bit has been spotted in Saginaw Bay, Alpena and Chippewa County’s Munuscong Bay, the DNR said in a statement last week. Until recently, the free-floating aquatic plant had been reported only in a few sites in the southeastern Lower Peninsula.

The DNR said it detected the invasive species through an “Early Detection Rapid Response ... pilot project” financed by a federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.

European frog-bit was released accidentally into Canadian waters in the 1930s. It has spread across Ontario and the northeastern United States.

“It forms extremely dense vegetative mats that cover the available open water surface,” the department’s statement said. “Frog-bit shades out submerged native plants, reducing invertebrate and plant biodiversity; disrupts natural water flow, inhibits watercraft movement and may adversely affect fish and wildlife habitat.”

It resembles a miniature water lily, with leaves about the size of a quarter or half dollar. It produces a small white flower, usually in June, and typically turns up in slow moving water 1 to 3 feet deep within cattail and bulrush stands.

Control measures are underway, including the removal of 1,500 pounds starting in mid-September and trial treatments with herbicides, the department said.

“Responding quickly to a new invasive species is critical to increasing our chances of success, and it requires a well-organized, collaborative effort between multiple agencies and other partners,” DNR Wildlife Division chief Russ Mason said in a statement.

The DNR said that it now is engaged in education and outreach efforts and is planning future control activities with “local stakeholders and partner groups.”

Anyone who spots a suspected outbreak of European frog-bit should contact the department or the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network, the statement said.

Midwest Invasive Species Information Network: http://www.misin.msu.edu

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