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Invasive Species

What are they?

Alien and exotic are two words used when plants or animals are not native to an area. When such plants and animals are aggressive to the extent that they out-compete native plants and animals and disrupt the ecological balance, they are called invasive. These problem plants and animals are spread and introduced into lakes by various methods. One of the fastest and most common ways invasive weeds spread is by hitching a ride on boats as they move between water bodies, such as those traveling along the interconnected Erie Canal system. In addition, plants and animals are introduced into new waterbodies by boat trailers, bait buckets and fishing tackle. Some exotic invasives have been introduced unintentionally when they are used in gardens and landscaping near a waterway. Additionally, when people dispose of aquatic plants and animals by emptying their aquariums into a nearby waterway, non-native nuisance plants, fish, snails and clams can introduced into the region. Stopping the spread of invasive plants and animals is essential to the health of the Finger Lakes.

Prevention is crucial, and can be accomplished if everyone cleans their boats and equipment on dry land when leaving a waterbody. If an invasive plants and animals do arrive in a new area, early detection and rapid response are both essential to prevent a large infestation from becoming established.

Invasive Animals

Some invasive animals found in Cayuga County Waterbodies include:

  • Asian Clam
  • Chinese Mystery Snail
  • Zebra Mussels
  • Quagga Mussels

Invasive Plants

Some invasive plants found in Cayuga County Waterbodies include:

Weeds Watch Out! (W2O!) is an education and outreach program that will attempt to thwart the spread of invasive aquatic plant species into, within, and from the Oswego River Basin, a sub-basin of Lake Ontario. The W2O! webpage is found at http://co.cayuga.ny.us/wqma/weedswatchout/index.html.

The Cayuga County Planning Department assisted the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network in acquiring Finger Lakes Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance funds to publish a guidebook for homeowners to deal with invasive plants along their shorelines. This document is Aquatic Weeds: Nuisance and Necessity: Managing Waterweeds in Cayuga, Owasco and Seneca Lakes and it can be downloaded here.


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Updated: April 11, 2011