Aggressive new invasive discovered in Lake Champlain

09/21/09 5:50PM By John Dillon

Photo courtesy Agency of Natural Resources
Variable-leaved watermilfoil
(Host) An aggressive new invasive water weed has been found in Lake Champlain.

Scientists have confirmed that a non-native plant called variable-leaved watermilfoil is growing in the southern end of Missisquoi Bay.

The plant is related to Eurasian water milfoil, an invasive species that was discovered in Vermont in the 1960s.

Anne Bove is an aquatic biologist with the state Agency of Natural Resources. She says that the newly discovered species - like Eurasian milfoil - can choke off waterways with a thick mat of vegetation.

(Bove) "It's very aggressive in its growth. It grows in a wide variety of conditions; it's not really picky. And it can out-compete native aquatic plants very easily, and wreak havoc recreationally."

(Host) The plant spreads by ‘hitching a ride' on boats or recreational equipment. It's very difficult to eradicate once it takes hold in an area. So Bove urged people to clean their boats before going to another body of water.

(Bove) "Remove any plant or animal material, discarding them properly in the trash. If possible, also rinsing your equipment especially if you know you're going to be moving to another water body that same day. We recommend hot-water, high pressure."

(Host) The milfoil was also popular as a decorative plant for aquariums. The state has banned its sale. But last year, officials found two retailers in southern Vermont who were still selling it.

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