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Boaters Asked To Do Their Part As Invasive European Frog-Bit Spreads

Frogbit illustration.jpeg
Michigan DNR
European frog-bit is a free-floating aquatic plant with small (0.5- to 2.5-inch) leaves. Illustration by Bruce Kerr.

If you’re out on Michigan lakes and rivers, there are things you can do when you get out of the water to help prevent the spread of invasive species, like the European frog-bit.

The aquatic plant was recently found in the lower Lincoln River in Mason County, but there are other locations across the state where the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has confirmed the presence of the invasive floating plant.

European frog-bit was first identified in Michigan in 1996 and has since spread throughout the state.

It forms dense mats and invades non-flowing waters like parts of rivers without a strong current, and wetlands.

It can pile up and impede recreational boating, waterfowl hunting, and the growth of native vegetation that fish feed on or use as habitat.

Sarah LeSage with EGLE says because the plant can easily spread and take over, it’s important for boaters to do their part.

“That’s really important for people who are out on the water to clean, drain, and dry their equipment to reduce the risk of spreading European frog-bit and other aquatic invasive species to new water bodies,” LeSage said.

To help control existing populations, state employees also hand-pull plants out of the water and use herbicide treatments.

LeSage says since its detection, it’s been spotted from the coastlines of the Great Lakes to inland bodies of water.

“We have seen range expansion of European frog-bit into places like mid-Michigan and western Michigan. So that’s really concerning as we see European frog-bit spread to more and more inland waters, and we want to protect those waters.”

Boaters, anglers, and waterfowl hunters are asked to clean, drain, and dry any boats, gear, or equipment prior to transporting watercraft over land.

  • Clean: Inspect boats, trailers, docks and gear and remove all mud, debris and plant material. Use a hose or power washer when available, and dispose of unwanted material in a trash can.
  • Drain: Remove water from live wells, bait buckets, bilges and other compartments before leaving an access site. 
  • Dry: Allow boats and gear to dry for at least five days, if possible, before use in other bodies of water.

Water-goers are also additional eyes on the water. So, if you spot growing plants that aren’t native to the state, you should report them to EGLE or the state Department of Natural Resources.

McKoy's story is brought to you as part of a partnership between WKAR and Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

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