Invasive Aquatic Plants & Animals

What are they?                    Why should I care?               What can I do about it? 

Above, a fragrant flower of the native lilypads on Kirk Lake.  Below, the thorny underside of a Water Chestnut plant also found in Kirk Lake. The yellowish "rosette" of leaves is harmless; but the attached, submerged "chestnuts" have thorns of about 1" in length.  Ouch! you'll know it when you feel it.



 

 

This carp was caught in Kirk Lake in August 2008.

Water Chestnut plants found in Kirk Lake are pushing out native lilypads

   What are they? 

Invasive aquatic plants are plants that are not native, but are well-adapted to a particular area.  These non-indigenous plants are most often brought into our lakes and streams by human activity, including boating, fishing, and swimming.  In recent years, invasive aquatic plant and even animal species have been increasing dramatically.  Some plant examples include Water Chestnut, Eurasian Milfoil, and Curly Leaf Pondweed.  Animal invasives include zebra mussels and the Chinese Mystery Snail.

   Why should I care?

Invasive aquatic plants and animals can displace native plants and creatures, disrupt the local food chain, degrade fishing and boating opportunities, reduce property values, and result in major ongoing control costs. 

   What can I do about it?

The best way to control invasive plants is to prevent their introduction into our lakes and streams.  There are some simple steps everyone can take to avoid being "a part of the problem." 

Unfortunately, outside of the NYC reservoir system, there are no governmental controls or checks on the sources of invasive plants.  The only prevention measures available are those of ordinary citizens like us. 

The most common means by which invasives are introduced to a lake or river is through boats or fishing gear and bait.  Before launching any boat, carefully examine the trailer, hull, propeller, and anchor for plant residue.  Even small dry fragments can survive on a boat or trailer for days out of water.  Simply remove all plants and plant residue from your boating equipment before launch.  Check fishing gear and anchors too! 

Live fish bait may be an invasive species as well.  Dumping your unused bait may introduce a self-sustaining species of non-native fish that will forever alter the habitat for future generations of fishermen. 

Another source of invasive plants are fish aquariums and water gardens.  Dumping your aquarium or water garden fish and plants into a lake, stream, or even the curbside storm drain could result in contamination. 

Remember, prevention is the easiest and cheapest solution. 

Identifying & Hand Pulling Invasive Water Chestnut Plants