There's a new invasive species battle brewing in some lakes across northern Michigan.
The Department of Natural Resources is focusing in on the new aquatic invasive plant called the European frog-bit, or Hydrocharis morsus-ranae.
The DNR Wildlife Division is leading the response effort to control the new threat. Until recently, the free-floating plant had only been reported in a few localized sites in the southeastern Lower Peninsula. Through recent statewide monitoring efforts, this species has been detected in Saginaw Bay, Alpena and Munuscong Bay in Chippewa County.
This new invasive species was detected as a result of an Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) pilot project funded through a federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant. The project relies on collaboration with partners, including Michigan State University and Cooperative Weed Management Area groups.
Using the new State of Michigan's Rapid Response Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species, developed jointly by the DNR, DEQ and MDARD, these new reports were verified, an on-site assessment was conducted and a response plan was formulated. Control measures are under way, including physical removal (1,500 pounds removed beginning in mid-September) and trial treatments with herbicides.
"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," said Wildlife Division chief Russ Mason.
European frog-bit was accidentally released into Canadian waters between 1932 and 1939, and has since spread throughout Ontario, New York, Vermont and other eastern states. It forms extremely dense vegetative mats that cover the available open water surface. 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.
European frog-bit 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. Frog-bit is typically found in slow moving, shallow waters (1-3 feet), typically within cattail and bulrush stands.