Aquatic Weeds and Invasive Species

Aquatic Weeds

Aquatic weeds are part of healthy lakes, rivers and streams. They provide food, living space and shelter for fish, birds and other wildlife. They protect lake shorelines by holding soil on the lake bottom and water’s edge, which in turn reduces erosion.

A problem arises when too many aquatic plants exist and they become nuisance weeds. Too many aquatic weeds can reduce water quality, prevent swimming, tangle in boat propellers, produce bad odors as they rot along the shoreline, reduce property values, hurt tourism, impact fisheries, and increase communities’ budgets for control and management of the weeds. Nuisance aquatic weeds can be native or invasive.

Invasive species

Water Chestnut

Invasive species are those plants or animals that are not native to a given area and have characteristics that can harm the environment, the economy, or even human health. Characteristics of invasive species can include the ability to establish easily, produce a high number of offspring, grow and proliferate quickly, disperse over a wide area, persist without cultivation and other advantages over native species.

Impacts of invasive species can include:

  • Increased competition with native species
  • Alteration of environmental conditions
  • Reduction in variety and diversity of species
  • Less suitable habitat for fish and wildlife
  • Impacts on food chain and effects on ecosystem

Impacts on people

  • Aesthetic: Invasive species can decrease the quality of life and aesthetic value of a waterbody.
  • Economic: Clogged and infested waterways decrease property values, hurt tourism, impact fisheries, and increase communities’ budget for control and management of plants.
  • Recreation: Invasive species impede swimming, boating, fishing, and navigation opportunities.
  • Health: Invasive animals can cause water quality degradation which impacts drinking water supplies.

Some invasive aquatic plants found in Cayuga County waterbodies include:

To learn more about invasive aquatic plants and how to identify them, consult the W2O! Invasive Weed Identification Guide.

Finally, some invasive insects can kill trees found in Cayuga County. The loss of these trees in the watershed and along the shoreline can cause soil erosion into our lakes, rivers and streams.

Two invasive insects of concern are: