Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that cause harm to the environment, economy and even human health. The Adirondack region has an opportunity to prevent invasive species from widely spreading. We need your help to identify invasive species, report sightings and use best management practices to control their spread.
Who am I?
Spiny waterfleas glob onto fishing lines, impairing angling and making it easy to unintentionally spread them to new waterways if proper measures are not taken to clean gear.
(Photo courtesy of Emily DeBolt)
Spiny waterfleas are small crustaceans, called zooplankton, that have long, spiny tails with small barbs. This is a sample taken from Lake Pleasant.
(Photo courtesy of Eric Holmlund)
I am spiny waterflea (Bythotrephes longimanus).
Why am I a problem?
I reproduce rapidly, compete directly with small fish and can have an impact on the native zooplankton community. My tail spines also hook on fishing lines, fouling fishing gear and preventing fish from being landed. I pose no threat to human health or drinking water.
Where did I come from?
I likely had a free ride from Europe and Asia in ship ballast water, arriving in Lake Ontario in 1982.
What do I look like?
I am a small crustacean, one-quarter to five-eighths of an inch long. I have a single long, spiny tail with small barbs along its length. We collect in gelatinous globs on fishing lines and downrigger cables.
Where do I live?
I prefer deep lakes but can be found in shallow lakes and rivers. I am usually found in the upper part of the water column and am most abundant in late summer and autumn. My densities may be determined by water temperature and salinity. I have spread throughout the Great Lakes and am establishing in lakes and rivers in New York, including seven lakes in the southeastern Adirondacks.
How do I spread?
I reproduce asexually as well as sexually. I can spread to new waters when fishing gear is contaminated with egg-laden females. While females die out of water, under certain conditions they produce eggs that resist drying, remain viable and can establish a new population. I spread from lake to lake by attaching to fishing lines, downriggers, anchor ropes and fishing nets, or by being transported in bilge water, bait buckets or livewells.
How do you get rid of me?
Unfortunately, I have no known controls. Eradication is impossible. Preventing my spread to new waterways is the best defense.
Who looks like me?
My tail spine is a feature that distinguishes me from all other free-swimming lake zooplankton.
What can anglers and boaters do?
Always take proper prevention measures to clean, drain and dry watercraft and especially angling gear after each use. Learn to recognize spiny waterflea. Inspect and remove gelatinous material from fishing lines. Drain water before transporting boats, personal watercraft and bait containers. Report new infestations to the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program.
For more information, log onto www.adkinvasives.com or contact the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program at 518-576-2082.
Eye on Invasives is a seasonal, biweekly column that spotlights a top invader when it is easiest to identify. Hilary Smith directs the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, a partnership program housed at the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in Keene Valley. Find out more about this award-winning program online at www.adkinvasives.com.