Q: What chemical should I use to treat water milfoil?
Douglas – Goddard, KS
A: Before we dive into how to treat this aquatic invader, let’s get to know it a little better first.
Water milfoil, also known as Eurasian Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), is a submersed aquatic plant that’s native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It has feather-like leaves that grow from white, red or brown stems, and some species produce four-petaled pink or reddish flowers that rise a few inches from the water’s surface.
Eurasian water milfoil thrives on fertile, fine-textured, inorganic sediments. An opportunistic species, the plant prefers water bodies that receive nitrogen and phosphorous-laden runoff, like a farm or agricultural pond. Growth explodes when water temperatures rise, which promote multiple periods of flowing and fragmentation (or when pieces of the plant grow roots and develop new plants).
If left unchecked, water milfoil can dominate a pond or lake in no time.
The good news is that you can find myriad products to manage this invasive species. The chemical you choose has to do with several factors.
• Closed or open system? If your pond is mostly covered with water milfoil, does not have water flowing in and out, and is not used for irrigation, SePRO Sonar™ A.S. Aquatic Herbicide will be your best choice. The product uses the active ingredient fluridone, which effectively controls a wide range of floating, submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation including duckweed, hydrilla, bladderwort, naiad, elodea, water lily, coontail, pondweed and water milfoil – giving you more herbicide bang for your buck.
• Small area or large? If you’re treating a smaller area of a pond or lake, Aquathol® Aquatic Herbicide works like a charm. It’s a rapid-acting contact herbicide that drops aquatic weeds below the water surface in four to seven days, though heavy growth may require a second application in 10 to 12 weeks.
• Spray or granular? If you prefer granular herbicides to spray ones and have a smaller area to treat, choose Navigate. This granular herbicide is ideal for spot-treating weeds around docks, beach areas and shorelines, killing the roots of both submerged and floating plants, including water milfoil, coontail and water lilies. You’ll see it go to work within 10 days; you’ll see full effects in three to five weeks.
Plant, Human Considerations
When choosing a chemical herbicide, pay special attention to use restrictions. Some of these products have limitations for use in irrigation ponds, swimming holes and other situations until the chemical has adequately broken down in the water.
Also consider the other critters – plants, fish and animals – that live in your pond. Certain products can harm game fish, koi or goldfish, and can kill off prize water lilies and other welcome aquatic plants.
Pond Talk: How do you manage invasive plants in your pond or lake?