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Don’t Get Bit by European Frogbit

If you have ever gone duck hunting or gone on a kayak through a marsh or even been fishing in a swamp/marsh area, you may have noticed there are many different aquatic plants that call eastern upper peninsula marshes and swamps home. One not so nice plant that has been invading our area for a while now is that of European Frogbit.

European Frogbit is a small, roughly dime sized, aquatic plant. It looks very similar to a small lily pad other than having leaves with a rounded heart shaped appearance whereas lily pads look like pizzas with a slice taken out. Additionally Frogbit will have a reddish hue to the underside of the leaf and will form a dense mat over the surface of the water.

The main concern with Frogbit is how quickly and densely it spreads. One plant can produce hundreds of turions, the method of new growth in frogbit plants, and ensure a larger infestation the next growing season. During our 2023 summer field season, during one day of pulling Frogbit our team managed to pull over 250 lbs in one day. This just gives you an inkling of the threat Frogbit can pose to our aquatic habitats in the Great Lakes region.

Frogbit covers the surface of the water preventing sunlight from reaching the water floor, cutting off other native plants from growing and thriving. This in turn can reduce water quality, native biodiversity both plant and animal, and make the swamp/marsh your more stereotypical marsh with a lot of dead plants and trees and not a lot of life. Frogbit can also clog waterways creating economic problems with sewage and water filtration systems.

So, the next time you go duck hunting or find yourself in a swamp and happen to see Frogbit, remember to clean drain and dry your boats and wash and waders or boots with a (recommended) 10% bleach solution. Our best bet at getting a handle on this plant is help from our fellow outdoorsmen and responsible recreation practices.

Thank you and happy recreating!

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