20 tips for buying a lake home in NW Wisconsin – #17 Aquatic Invasive Species
Although Wisconsin is also being invaded by other alien plants, mollusks, and fish, here are the three invasives that are causing the most concern right now:
Eurasian water milfoil
The only non-native milfoil in Wisconsin, Eurasian water milfoil has invaded waterways in more than 50 percent of the state’s counties. It grows well in heavily used lakes and thrives in high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous runoff. It disrupts aquatic communities by preventing larger fish from accessing certain waters, and it reduces the number of native plants available for waterfowl.
This reddish-brown colored plant often grows in shallow water and can tolerate low light and cold water. It emerges each spring before many other invasive species because it grows under the ice during winter. Its ability to grow during the winter allows it to overtake native plants. It’s found in every state but Maine and can grow to be 3 feet long. It usually falls to the lake bottom by early July.
The mussel is a tiny clam that dwells at the bottom of lakes. It’s native to Asia and Europe, but was introduced to the Great Lakes in the mid-1980s. They can grow as big as 2 inches long, but are typically under an inch. Their impact on ecosystems is significant. They feed on microscopic plants, taking away food from native organisms, including fish. The process also increases the clarity of water, which leads to more plant growth. They are the only freshwater mussels that can attach to solid objects.
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
To learn more, visit the DNR’s website at http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/aquatic/.
We’re remaining vigilant; we want to protect our waterways.