The European Frogbit is an invasive plant species native to Europe, Asia and Africa. It was originally discovered in Michigan in 1996, but it's stayed relatively tame in the Great Lakes.
However, recently, this aquatic plant has found its way inland into smaller lakes and rivers, which is not a great sign.
Let's rewind: What is this stuff?
This heart-shaped floating plant measures 2 inches in diameter and resembles a water lily. Frogbit plants combine to form dense mats across entire bodies of water, preventing the growth of natural and local plant life. Additionally, by establishing these mats, they prevent the movement of ducks, fish and, eventually, boats and swimmers.
In the fall, when the Frogbit dies off, the decrease in oxygen causes fish and natural plant life to die, as well.
What can we do about it?
To prevent the further spread of European Frogbit and other aquatic invasive species, the Michigan government created a law that requires all boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats and trailers after putting them in water.
Invasive species have been known to attach themselves to boats and trailers, enabling them to spread to other bodies of water. So, while you're having fun water skiing, fishing and cruising, remember to help preserve the beautiful Michigan lakes by cleaning and draining your boat.
You can't exactly wakeboard on top of plants, and you don't want them clogging the intake on your personal watercraft. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's the law. Failure to clean and drain your watercraft can result in serious fines.
I've seen that plant!
Another major thing you can do to help is simply keep an eye out for the plant.
If you notice Frogbit in new areas, let Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas know by sending photos, the location, date and time of the observation.
Or even easier, download this app or visit this page to report it. The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network app is a practical tool that allows everyone to pitch in and help impede invasive species from polluting the waters.
Every effort contributes to preventing the spread of this plant while promoting natural wildlife.
Who's actively fighting Frogbit?
Michigan CISMA is currently working diligently to remove large dense gatherings of the European Frogbit by hand, but it needs all the help it can get. In addition to covering the surface of lakes and rivers, European Frogbit drops pods, called turions, that stay at the bottom of the lake or river, which then turn into new plants.
This creates a recurring life cycle for the Frogbit, which is harder to eradicate. If left untreated, the plant forms a monoculture, which is when a single plant dominates a large area, preventing all other life from existing. Michigan's scenic lakes and rivers are home to a vast diversity of plants and animals. Together, perhaps we can help keep it that way.
All right, I'm on board. Where can I learn more?
The Michigan Wildlife Council emphasizes the importance of wildlife management efforts, such as those to address European Frogbit, in order to ensure Michigan's forests, waters and wildlife are healthy, diverse and abundant for generations to come. To learn more, visit HereForMiOutdoors.org.