Invasive European frog-bit plant found in 4 Michigan lakes

European frog-bit resembles small water lilies, with white, three-petaled flowers visible between June and August.
European frog-bit resembles small water lilies, with white, three-petaled flowers visible between June and August. (Michigan DNR)

Michigan environmental officials announced they have recently confirmed the presence of an invasive aquatic plant in at least four lakes.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy recently confirmed the presence of European frog-bit in four lakes within the Waterloo Recreation Area in Jackson and Washtenaw counties and one impoundment in the Dansville State Game Area in Ingham County.

European frog-bit was first detected in southeast Michigan in 1996 and has since spread along the coastal areas of lakes Erie and Huron up to the eastern Upper Peninsula.

Aquatic invasive species have the potential to harm Michigan’s environment, economy and human health. European frog-bit, which resembles a miniature water lily with leaves about the size of a quarter, can form dense mats on the surface of slow-moving waters like bayous, backwaters and wetlands. These mats can impede boat traffic and alter food and habitat for ducks and fish.

While waterfowl, currents and stream flow can spread the plant and its seeds, European frog-bit, like most invasive species, travels farther and faster by human movement. Plant parts and seeds can become attached to boat motors, trailers, decoys and other recreational gear in an infested body of water and be transferred unintentionally to another location.

What you can do

To prevent further spread of European frog-bit, boaters, waterfowl hunters and anglers should “Clean, Drain and Dry” boats, trailers and gear before moving them to a new location.

State law now requires boaters to do the following before transporting any watercraft over land:

  • Remove all drain plugs from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells.
  • Drain all water from live wells and bilges.
  • Ensure the watercraft, trailer and all conveyances are free of aquatic organisms, including plants.

If you spend time on or around the water, learn how to identify European frog-bit and report any sightings using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network website at MISIN.MSU.edu or the MISIN downloadable app. When reporting, be sure to note the date, time and location of the sighting and take photos if possible.

Reports also can be made to EGLE’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program by email to EGLE-WRD-ANC@michigan.gov or by calling 517-284-5593.


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.