Dangers of The Water By: Elle Altman

European Frog Bit is known as many different things to different people. Scientists know the European Frog Bit in Latin, but if you don't speak Latin then what can you do? Well, even if you are talking to a scientist who speaks a different language, if you say the European frog bit in its scientific name they will know what you are talking about. The European Frog Bit's scientific name/classification is:

The European Frog Bit is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. It was brought to The Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, Canada from Europe in 1932.

Frog Bit was originally intended to be used as a commercial ornamental plant.

Frog Bit was found in the Rideau Canal in the year 1939 and has spread to several other rivers since.

The European Frog Bit can be found in the Rideau and Ottawa water systems, the St. Lawrence river, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Kawartha Lakes and other lakes and rivers in south western Ontario. These places are all outside the European Frog Bit’s native range. It`s also been introduced to some American states such as New York, Vermont, Michigan and Washington. It can be found in sheltered inlets, ponds, slow running rivers and ditches, which are all examples of slow moving waters.

Impacts of the european Frog bit

The European Frog Bit’s growth is fast. It also forms dense floating mats. These mats prevent sunlight from reaching drenched plants and crowd out the native species that live there. This is reducing biodiversity. Because Frog Bit forms dense mats it can limit nutrients and dissolve gasses to native organisms in the water and soil below. They can interfere with swimming, boating, fishing and waterfalls.

Some large areas of Frog Bit die in the fall and decompose. They then fall to the bottom of the lake. When this happens each year, a large amount of decomposing plant material accumulates in water bodies causing dissolved oxygen levels to decrease drastically in the water and aquatic life can be affected. If there isn’t enough oxygen, then fish and other aquatic organisms can die.

Heavy hordes of European Frog Bit can obstruct swimmers and boaters, prevent recreational waterways from other uses, and clog drainage from canals and streams.

European Frog Bit has the potential to become a serious problem for aquatic systems because it can dominate wetlands or water bodies within 5 years of establishing them. It can also destroy waterfalls and fish habitat and make boating impossible.

Structural Characteristics of a European Frog Bit

The European Frog Bit has heart-shaped leaves that are round, smooth and leathery. These floating leaves have long stalks that are about 6 cm (2 ½ inches) long. They are distinctly spongy and have dark purple or red underside. They form a long rosette on a short stem. They also have a single white flower. This flower is about 1.5 cm (½ inch) wide. The flowers of the European Frog Bit are white with a yellow center. They have 3 white petals. They also float freely and their roots are not attached to sinemet. The roots are numerous and typically 12 inches long.

As well as structural characteristics, the European Frog Bit has Behavioral Characteristics too. The European Frog Bit can float free or it can put down roots in shallow water. The roots can be up to 50 centimeters long. This plant also produces a single white flower.

This is a European Frog Bit floating in the water

European Frog Bit is an invasive species that can move from place to place. Stem fragments, seeds and winter buds (known as turions) are some things new plants can grow from. These new plants can spread to other waters by boats and wildlife. They can also spread by being caught on propellers or on other aquatic equipment. Frog Bit rarely produces seeds and instead spreads through vegetated reproduction.

Another way Frog Bit can spread is through improper disposal by water gardeners and by clinging to watercraft trailers and equipment. They can spread naturally when plant pieces break off and float within the current.

Efforts to control frogbit

There aren’t any control measures right now but a temporary solution is to remove them mechanically so that boaters are able to use the lake. European Frog Bit is one of the many aquatic plants that are sold in the water garden trade. It’s a good idea to buy native aquatic plants to prevent accidental release if you have a water garden. If you are a water gardener you should isolate their gardens from runoff that may lead to waterways of storm sewers. Also minimize the use of ornamental and non-native plant species in your garden.

Sue Smith reached out to local experts on invasive plants and they were able to work for 3 years, develop a methodology and get the percent of Frog Bit down to volunteer manageable levels. They spent a couple of days a week trying to get as much as they could. No one had ever dealt with Frog Bit before. Help from volunteers is crucial to keeps some bays from being choked by Frog Bit.

What Can YOU Do?

You should also always empty your bait bucket on land or in the trash and never realize your bait into lakes, rivers, or streams. You can inspect your boat, tackle, trailer and other equipment for plants parts, and drain all the water from your motor. Remove all plant or animal material and dispose of in any in an appropriate container. Do the same thing for any clothing you wear in the water for example waders, float coats and life jackets. Flush all fishing equipment with hot water. This is done to remove biological contaminants including nets, down riggers, planer boards, decoys and paddles. Remember not to drain the wash water from this treatment into other not infested waterways or storm sewers that may lead to other waters. Lastly, dispose of unwanted plants in the garbage ONLY after completely drying them.

For a small infestation you can physically remove them by pulling them out and removing all plant parts and roots from the water. You should also never move fish or bait from one lake to another. It is relied on all to help monitor the spread of frog bit.

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