Unwanted Invaders of Farlain Lake

The following is courtesy of Robyn Rumney, Invasive Species Intern, Severn Sound Environmental Association

Plant and animal species are moving around the planet, assisted by increasing globalization, climate change and other human caused factors. This movement results in plants, animals and micro-organisms occurring outside their normal “native” range, where they are known as non-native species. We see the impacts of this global movement locally, species like purple loosestrife and sea lamprey originated elsewhere and have since become commonplace in North America. The problem with non-native species lies in their ability to outcompete native species, as they lack natural predators and competitors to control their populations. When non-native species spread unchecked they become invasive, and can damage the environment, the economy and human health. 

Despite being a small inland lake, Farlain Lake is not immune to the effects of invasive species. As many Farlain Lake Community Association (FLCA) members are aware, an invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), has become prolific in portions of Farlain Lake. Eurasian watermilfoil’s dense growth is threatening the lake’s native wildlife, hindering recreational use and reducing the aesthetic appeal of affected regions.

Eurasian watermilfoil isn’t the only invasive species that should be on the radar of Farlain Lake users. Invasive fish, plants and aquatic invertebrates also have the potential to enter the Farlain Lake area.

Preventing the introduction of invasive species is critical:

  • Do not dump leftover bait water or aquarium contents into Farlain Lake. This water could cause the spread of invasive fish, plants and invertebrates, even if they are not visible to the naked eye.
  • Clean, drain and dry your boat before entering Farlain Lake, particularly if it was recently in another waterbody. Zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena bugensis, respectively) have not yet been found in Farlain Lake, but their microscopic larvae could easily enter the lake attached to unwashed boats. If they do invade Farlain Lake, zebra and quagga mussels could threaten the native mussel population, affect nutrient cycling and pose a safety hazard for swimmers.
  • Plant native species in your gardens, as many non-native landscaping plants have the potential to escape and become invasive. Non-native species such as Norway maple (Acer platanoides), periwinkle (Vinca minor), goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria,) yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), and European common reed (Phragmites australis) can be visually appealing but should be avoided due to their tendency to become dominant. Luckily, there are many native alternatives that can be cultivated instead and pose no harm to Farlain Lake’s environment. Native plants are also the preferred food source for native insects and birds.
  • Do not transport firewood; instead buy firewood near where you will burn it. Transporting wood can result in the spread of invasive forest insects, such as emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), that could affect the health of the Farlain Lake’s surrounding forests. 

The Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) is piloting an Invasive Species Program. This program will coordinate invasive species mapping, monitoring and control programs in the Severn Sound watershed (including Farlain Lake), and ultimately produce an Invasive Species Strategy for the area. SSEA will support and work with a variety of partners, including the FLCA, to prevent and manage invasive species.

If invasive species are found, the sightings can be reported to SSEA by calling 705-527-5166; a staff member will confirm the identification and file a report. More information about invasive species and how to help prevent their spread can be found on the SSEA website: www.severnsound.ca.