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I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring?

Q: I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring?

Bernie – Muskegon, MI

A: Those little bloodsuckers sure steal the fun, don’t they?

Hitching a ride with waterfowl, amphibians, small mammals—even your muck boots—leeches love living in mucky debris at the bottom of your pond. They settle in and wait for worms, snails, insect larvae, small water-loving animals and even humans to cruise by. When something looks tasty, they’ll use their suction cup-like mouths and teeth to latch on and feed on their blood.

Leeches aren’t necessarily bad for your pond or lake—in fact, they’re an important part of the food web. But they can be a nuisance, particularly if you use it for swimming or water sports.

Death by Winter Frost

During the winter, leeches don’t die. They ball up and burrow in the mud just below the frost line, nice and cozy, where they hibernate through the cold temperatures. In the spring, they’ll return to their bloodsucking ways.

If temperatures fall below freezing where you live, one wintertime leech-control trick is to manipulate the water level in your pond. Drop the water level at least 4 feet after ice has started to form on the pond. This will freeze the leeches that were living in the shallow underwater mud. It’s an effective method, but it could also kill other aquatic life burrowed in the mud.

Controlling Leeches

Sure, they’re part of the ecosystem, but no one likes climbing onto the dock with their legs covered in leeches, right? There are several ways to trap and control those bloodsuckers.

  1. Capture them in tiny traps. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can with a lid, bait it with raw chicken or fish heads, and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the leeches climb in for a meal, they can’t escape because their full bellies will prevent them from exiting. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.
  2. Control them with leech-grubbing fish. Your finned friends will savor the protein-rich treats. Fall is the perfect time to add more fish to your pond—and leech control is a perfect excuse to boost your game fish population. Red-ear sunfish are particularly fond of leeches.
  3. Destroy their habitat. Because leeches live in the muck and detritus in the shallow areas of your pond or lake, keep up with weed maintenance so you’re not creating a hospitable habitat for them. Remove shoreline vegetation with weed removal tools, cut and rake out dead organic debris from the water and add natural bacteria to break down the muck.

Pond Talk: How do you control leeches in your lake?

Cut Through Tough Pond Weeds - The Pond Guy® 28” Weed Cutter

I have a lot of cattail growth. Should I spray it now or just wait until spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have a lot of cattail growth. Should I spray it now or just wait until spring?

Q: I have a lot of cattail growth. Should I spray it now or just wait until spring?

Thomas – Afton, MN

A: As long as those cattails are green and growing, you should spray them. Fall is actually an ideal time to treat pesky pond weeds because that’s when the matured plants soak up nutrients through their leaves to prepare for the coming winter. They’ll do the same thing with the herbicide—but it will cause their demise!

If you don’t spray the cattails, they won’t dry up and die. No, that would be too easy! When the weather gets cold, the leaves and stems will turn brown and dry up while the tuberous root systems in the soil below the surface lie dormant. Those tubers, having stored up energy all winter, will explode with new shoots and growth in the spring.

Plus, all that dead and dried up foliage will fall into your pond, adding decaying organics to the mix. That detritus—which is like fertilizer to pond weeds and algae—will cause an even bigger headache next year.

Spraying cattails now when they’re still green is your best bet. Here’s how we recommend you do it.

  1. Spray Growth: Using your tank sprayer, treat the cattails with Shoreline Defense® with Treatment Booster™ PLUS. Apply the herbicide, which has no usage restrictions, directly to all above-water foliage. The plant will draw it in through its leaves and die—roots and all.
  2. Spray Again: Wait about two weeks for the herbicide to kick in, and then repeat the process again to be sure you get that weed under control. This will be necessary in ponds with thick, abundant cattail growth.
  3. Remove Dead Foliage: As the cattails die, cut and rake out dead debris with your weed removal tools, like a weed cutter and pond rake. This will cut down on decomposing organics left in the pond, making it easier to get on top of any new growth in the spring.

Take some time during this late summer and fall to treat cattails. You’ll be glad you did!

Pond Talk: How do you manage cattails in your pond or lake?

Broad Spectrum Emergent Weed Killer - Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS

I’ve tried sprays and other types of bug control. Is there anything else I can do to reduce the mosquitoes by my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’ve tried sprays and other types of bug control. Is there anything else I can do to reduce the mosquitoes by my pond?

Q: I’ve tried sprays and other types of bug control. Is there anything else I can do to reduce the mosquitoes by my pond?

Nancy – Lima, OH

A: Nothing ruins a pondside shindig faster than a swarm of blood-thirsty mosquitoes. The buzzing, biting, irritating bugs are the bane of pond owners. Besides causing itchy welts, these little pests can transmit dangerous and deadly diseases, like malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus, dog heartworm and equine encephalitis.

Yep, they’re a nuisance—but their population can be controlled. Here’s what we recommend.

Remove Food Source

Ponds with lots of plant matter and algae are perfect for feeding baby mosquitoes. Those little wigglers and tumblers (technical terms for developing mosquito larvae and pupae) gobble through the greens, but you can minimize their feeding frenzy by maintaining your pond and eliminating their food source.

Move the Water

A female mosquito prefers to lay her eggs in stagnant water that’s full of algae, plankton, fungi and bacteria, so your next plan of attack should be to churn the water with a fountain, like our AquaStream™ Fountain, or an Airmax® Aeration System near the area where you sit. The waves will make her think twice about calling that part of your pond home.

Grasses Be Gone

Because adult mosquitoes live among the debris surrounding your pond, you want to keep those grasses cleared out. Use some herbicide, like Shoreline Defense®, to kill aquatic weeds and grasses. And pull out your weed removal tools, like your weed cutter, rake and debris skimmer, and remove the dead plants, overgrowth and other potential hiding spots – at least in the area where you hang out most often.

Help from Finned Friends

Mosquito-eating pond life, like tadpoles, minnow, bass, bluegill and catfish, love noshing on the little larvae and pupae. If you don’t already have a fish population living in your lake, consider adding some! The American Mosquito Control Association, in fact, recommends adding predacious minnows or native fish to lakes and ponds for biological control of the insects.

Use Mosquito Dunks or Bits

Mosquito dunks or bits are a lifesaver for folks with still ponds and other standing water pools on their property. These handy little disks or bits contain Bt-israelensis (Bt-i), a specially formulated biological pesticide designed to kill mosquito larvae. You simply toss them in your pond or lake and they’ll provide relief for up to 30 days. Plus, they’re safe for use around wildlife, pets and humans.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes are part of life with a lake or pond. With some pond and landscape maintenance, aeration, water movement, biological control and, if necessary, chemical control, however, you can keep the buzzing swarms at bay.

Pond Talk: What are some other ways you’ve tried to control lakeside mosquitos?

Control Mosquitos Up To 30 Days - Summit® Mosquito Bits® & Dunks®

If I treat my pond for weeds and it rains, will the treatment still work? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: If I treat my pond for weeds and it rains, will the treatment still work?

Q: If I treat my pond for weeds and it rains, will the treatment still work?

Amy – Linn Grove, IN

A: That all depends! Because you’re applying chemicals to water, you’d think that rain would have no affect on the herbicide—but it actually might. How long it rains, how heavily it rains and how soon it rained after you applied the treatment could impact its quality and effectiveness.

If wet stuff from the sky is a threat and you’re thinking about spraying algaecides or herbicides to control nuisance plants in your pond or lake, here are four general guidelines to follow:

  1. Check the Weather: Is steady rain forecast for the day? If so, postpone any treatment of emergent weeds. Many treatments need to be absorbed by the plant’s leaves to be effective. A day-long stint of rain will rinse the chemical off the weed before it can be fully absorbed.
  2. Check the Weather, Part II: If you’re expecting heavy precipitation, definitely put off treatment to another day. The applied chemical could rinse off the plants and overflow from the pond before being taken up by the target weed.
  3. Reapply If Necessary: A light sprinkle will generally not affect the chemical’s potency in a pond that’s already been treated. If a downpour occurs within a few hours of application, however, plan to reapply the herbicide in a few days to fully control that target plant.
  4. Make Your Treatment Count: Use a pond sprayer to apply the chemical as close to target weeds as possible, and use a sticky surfactant to help the chemical absorb into the plant like Treatment Booster™ PLUS. Treatment Booster™ PLUS breaks down the surface of the weed or algae and allows the active ingredient to penetrate.

Even though you’re treating aquatic weeds, wet weather can still impact the chemical’s effectiveness. Check the short- and long-term forecast and plan accordingly – because you don’t want all that hard work (and costly treatments) to be for nothing!

Pond Talk: How has the weather affected your pond or lake so far this summer?

Kill Persistent Weeds & Grasses - Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS

Is it better to rake out as much of the weeds and algae as I can before treating? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Is it better to rake out as much of the weeds and algae as I can before treating?

Q: Is it better to rake out as much of the weeds and algae as I can before treating?

Sherry – Casselton, ND

A: It makes sense to want to remove as much of the plant nuisance as possible before spraying them with algaecides and herbicides. But, in general, it’s better to treat and kill the unwanted growth first – and then rake out the dead debris. Why? Let’s take a look at how weed and algae destroying chemicals work.

Contact Chemicals

A contact chemical, like Algae Defense®, needs to make contact with algae in order to kill it. If the chara, filamentous algae or planktonic algae are cut or broken into smaller pieces, it’s harder for the chemicals to make contact. Because algae grows by fragmentation rather than a defined root system, it’ll just keep on growing. So it’s better to leave the algae as-is before treating.

Systemic Chemicals

A systemic chemical, like Shoreline Defense®, works by being absorbed into the growth system of emergent shoreline weeds, like cattails, via their leaves and roots. As it does so, it kills the plants. Cutting the plants down stops the absorption process and prevents the chemical from getting into their system. As with contact chemicals, treat first.

Treat, Then Rake

After you’ve treated and killed the problem plants, then you should pull the dead debris from the pond with a weed cutter and rake. That will prevent all that decaying matter from becoming fertilizer for future algae blooms.

If you miss some of it, your aeration system and natural bacteria can do the work for you. An Airmax® Aeration system keeps the water oxygenated and moving, while the beneficial microorganisms in our natural bacteria products break down the debris.

Pond Talk: How have your algae blooms been this year? Better, worse or the same as last year?

Skim Dead Algae & Vegetation - The Pond Guy® Pond & Beach Rake

I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep?

Q: I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep?

Gordon – Spring Mills, PA

A: Water shield, scientific name Brasenia schreberi, can be a tough enemy to battle one it is established in your pond – but with some effort and the right tools this invasive aquatic plant can be controlled. Here’s what you need to know.

Water Shield Identification

Water shield, also known as Dollar Bonnet, is a floating-leaved plant that produces a small, oval pad like a water lily but without its noticeable V-shaped cutout. The leaves appear green on top and reddish-purple on the bottom and stems, and they have a distinctive gelatinous slime on their undersides. The plant also produces small, dull purple or reddish flowers that rise above the surface and consist of three to four sepals and petals.

Like other invasive aquatic plants, water shield spreads via seeds and its root system – which makes it doubly difficult to control. Beneath the surface, the long leaf stems reach the bottom where they attach to long creeping root stalks that are anchored in the mud. To control the plant, you really need to destroy the entire plant, roots and all.

Battling Water Shield

You could try to control this problem plant mechanically by cutting and yanking it with razors and rakes, but that won’t be enough to get rid of it. The plant will just regrow from its remaining roots. And if you want to attempt biological control, you’re out of luck as one doesn’t exist.

Destroying this plant means bringing out the big guns: the chemicals. Active ingredients that have been proven successful in treating water shield which include glyphosate and diquat.

Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense® Aquatic Herbicide contains glyphosate, which is a systemic killer that will work all the way down to the plant’s roots after a single use. It has no water use or temperature restrictions, so you can safely use it in ponds used for drinking water, livestock and irrigation.

Another option is Pond Logic® Ultra PondWeed Defense® Aquatic Herbicide. It’s a quick-fix solution that will kill the floating water shield foliage and tackle some other nuisance weeds in your pond. However, it may not penetrate down to the roots so you’ll need to use it repeatedly, and it has some water use restrictions associated with it.

What About the Lilies?

Both Shoreline Defense® and Ultra PondWeed Defense® should be combined with Treatment Booster™ PLUS are applied via a tank sprayer to the foliage that’s on the water surface. If you carefully spray the herbicide onto the water shield leaves on a calm day and prevent any from landing on your water lilies, they’ll be just fine!

One word of caution: Chemical control brings with it a chance of oxygen depletion caused by the decomposition of dead plant materials. If your pond is heavily infested, treat the weeds in sections, and let each section decompose for about two weeks before treating another section. Be sure to keep your aeration system running.

Pond Talk: Have you battled water shield in your pond or lake? If so, how did you win the fight?

Control Persistent Aquatic Weeds - Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense®

The ice is finally melting and there are dead cattails and phragmites everywhere. Do I need to rake them out? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: The ice is finally melting and there are dead cattails and phragmites everywhere. Do I need to rake them out?

Q: The ice is finally melting and there are dead cattails and phragmites everywhere. Do I need to rake them out?

Ed – Adairsville, GA

A: What an eyesore. As the snow and ice melt, those brown, dried-up cattails and phragmites do little to enhance a landscape. They can, in fact, cause water quality and weed management problems, especially as spring approaches and those green shoots emerge from the dead growth. You need to do something about them, and here’s what we recommend.

Frosty Water

With water temperatures still on the chilly side, it’s likely too early to start treating your pond or lake with beneficial bacteria, like those found in Pond Logic® MuckAway™. Those little detritus-destroyers prefer water that’s at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit – and chances are good that it’s well below that mark (unless you’re in sunny Florida or California …). Besides, even with some oxygen-infusing aeration, it would take a long time before they would be able to decompose large cattail or phragmite stalks.

Winter Management

One option is to leave those dead weeds in the water until spring. They may attract wildlife and create an ideal home for insects, amphibians and birds – as well as small rodents and other possibly unwanted visitors that will hide out in the shoreline brush.

Right now, your best bet is to pull out your weed whacking tools and get to work.

We offer a range of cutters and rakes that’ll make the job easy. From a double-sided cutter with an 11-foot reach to a V-shaped cutter that sinks to the bottom and slices weeds at their base, these tools help you cut down those dead plants. And a rake, like one of our weed rakers, will help gather the cut stalks for easy pickup and removal.

Spring Solutions

In the spring when the water temperatures rise and the weeds start to grow again, treat them with an herbicide formulated to tackle the toughest weeds. Remember: those chemicals only work when they’re absorbed by a growing plant, so there’s no sense in using them when the cattails and phragmites are dried up and dormant.

Happy winter weeding!

Pond Talk: What features do you prefer in a weed cutter?

Cut Through Tough Weeds - The Pond Guy® 28 Inch Weed Cutter

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