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Aquatic Plant Spotlight: Hydrilla

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Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) is a nonnative, invasive aquatic plant that is rooted and can grow to almost 30 feet, filling up the water column. Due to its invasive nature, it becomes overabundant and can reduce fish habitat, outcompete important native plants, clog irrigation canals and water control stations, and change water chemistry.

The Invasive Nature of Hydrilla

Hydrilla was initially brought to the U.S. as an aquarium plant and has since escaped into the wild, where it becomes an ecological and economic disaster. Millions of dollars are spent annually to try to control hydrilla across the U.S., but the best way to control it is to prevent its spread. Hydrilla is difficult to control after established due to its rapid growth and ability to spread, primarily by fragments on boats and trailers.

We can prevent the spread of hydrilla by cleaning our boats, trailers and live wells. If boating in a water body known to have hydrilla, power wash your boat and trailer after use and allow to air dry for at least five days before moving to a new water body.

Chemicals such as endothall, fluridone and copper with diquat can be effective in controlling hydrilla. So can grass carp since the plant is one of their preferred foods.

Will Moseley has worked as a wildlife and fisheries consultant at Noble Research Institute since 2008. He received his bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries management from Texas Tech University and his master’s degree in range and wildlife management from Texas A&M University – Kingsville. His primary interests are centered on using prescribed fire and grazing to improve ecosystem health on rangelands to benefit biodiversity.