Invasive Phragmites australis: What is it and why is it a problem? Part 2

Managing invasive Phragmites australis: Everyone can play a role in keeping this invasive under control.

Part 1:  Invasive Phragmites australis: What is it and why is it a problem?

As invasive Phragmites australis moves into our coastal areas, it can often seem impossible to do anything about it. However, public and private entities can work together to halt the spread and manage existing infested areas.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recommends controlling the invasive Phragmites australis by using an integrated pest management approach, which Controlled burn of invasive Phragmites australis image.includes an initial herbicide treatment followed by mechanical removal (e.g., cutting, mowing) and annual maintenance. For large areas with dense stands of invasive Phragmites, prescribed burning used after herbicide treatment can provide additional control and ecological benefits over mechanical removal. Where possible, flooding for extensive periods during the growing season can also be an effective method of control.

Pulling by hand and digging out may be used if detected early, when only a few plants are present. However, because the plants will spread through underground rhizomes, it is nearly impossible to remove all pieces. Any pieces left behind can re-sprout, so constant vigilance is required.

Everyone has a role to play when it comes to managing the spread and control of invasive plants such as the invasive Phragmites australis. The Midwest Invasive Plant Network suggests the following ways that you can help:

  • Learn how to identify the invasive plants that are in your area.
  • Make sure that seeds are not stuck to your clothes or gear. You don’t want to introduce or spread these plants to other areas!
  • Do not camp or travel through areas infested with invasive plants, if they can be avoided.
  • Clean mud or dirt off your vehicle, pets, and even your hiking boots before going onto public lands.
  • Wash your boat before going to a new lake, river, or stream.
  • Drive on established roads, and ride or hike on designated trails.
  • Don’t plant invasive species on your land. Find native or non-invasive alternative species to plant instead. Ask your local nursery to stock native plant species.
  • Volunteer to help inventory or control invasive plants. Early detection and eradication of small infestations and prevention of new infestations are the most cost-effective ways to manage invasive plants. Be on the lookout and help wipe out invasive plants.
  • Pass it on! Tell your friends and family about this problem.

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