Fighting Hydrilla in the Cayuga Lake Watershed

Why Are We Worried?

One of the most aggressive aquatic plants to invade North America, called hydrilla, was first detected in the Cayuga Inlet in August 2011 by a volunteer on board the Floating Classroom (the first spotting was in the Linderman Creek area of the Inlet). In a follow-up survey, Robert L. Johnson, a local plant expert with Cornell University and Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologists, located several areas of the Inlet with extensive populations of hydrilla (Plant Monitoring 2011). In August 2013, hydrilla was found in Fall Creek and in the shallow southeast corner of Cayuga Lake. In 2016 hydrilla was found in Aurora.

If it is not contained, it is likely to spread into a vast network of interconnected water bodies in New York State and beyond, including the Great Lakes via its reproductive structures (tubers and turions). The NY Invasive Species Research Institute has provided a summary of information about hydrilla.

What's Being Done

The Hydrilla Task Force works to fully eradicate hydrilla from the Cayuga Lake Watershed. Efforts to date are very successful. Treatments at the south end of the watershed (Cayuga Inlet, Fall Creek, and the southeastern corner of Cayuga Lake) .will likely be completed in 2017, with ongoing monitoring to ensure hydrilla does not return. Treatment of the hydrilla infestation in Aurora is planned for 2017. Local p  successful in other areas of the country informs local plan. 

Hydrilla in the Cayuga Inlet was found early on, at a point in the invasion curve where eradication was deemed possible. The goal stated in the 2012 Work Plan is complete eradication. Many control measures were considered and most are not viable for our infestation at this time. See Control Method Considerations.

  • National experts on hydrilla and local resource managers/stewards agree that herbicide treatments using endothall and fluridone will have the best chance at successful eradication, when coupled with other strategies such as monitoring, outreach, and prevention, as explained in the managements plans.
  • Boat traffic of any kind can cause fragments of the plants to break off. These fragments can be transported to areas that are not currently infested and sprout roots, establishing new populations. Any boats coming out the Inlet should be thoroughly cleaned (How you can help make sure hydrilla isn't being spread).
  • Like any invasive species, introduction can have very harmful effects on the native ecosystem. Hydrilla is extremely hardy and can grow in even the worst conditions (low nutrients, minimal sunlight, etc.) where other plants cannot. It can grow up to a foot a day, matting over the water, blocking sunlight and oxygen for other aquatic species. (More information about hydrilla). As infestions progress over time, there is less likely a chance of fully eradicating this nuisance from the waterbody (Invasion Curve).
  • Hydrilla infestations will have a detrimental effect on the local economies that rely on these waterways -for flood protection, property tax revenues, and tourism spending, particularly spending associated with recreational boating and water-dependent businesses. Read more information of hydrilla's economic impacts on the Cayuga Inlet.

Allied biological 3

Management Options

There are four main management options for hydrilla: biological, chemical, mechanical, and physical.

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Dan munsell treman summer

How You Can Help!

Everyone can help in the fight against hydrilla. Learn more about what you can do to stop the spread of this invasive water weed.

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Hydrilla hunters

How to Identify Hydrilla

Hydrilla can be identified by many characteristics, such as pointed leaves, potato-like tubers, and aggressive growth.

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Usgs infestation map

Successful U.S. Eradications

The Hydrilla Task Force of the Cayuga Lake Watershed learns the best ways to deal with hydrilla from other areas of the U.S. who have overcome it.

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Last updated June 27, 2017