Another Invasive Species makes Midwest Waters Home

Another Invasive Species

makes Midwest Waters Home

Nebraska has seen its fair share of invasive species, both on land and in water, during recent years. Japanese beetles, invasive species of carp, and zebra mussels have made headlines in the last few years as their numbers grow dramatically throughout both Nebraska and the rest of the Midwest. News out of Minnesota in September has us wondering whether our water supplies will soon play host to yet another unwelcome guest. Nitellopsis obtusa, or the starry stonewort, is a type of freshwater alga has made a splash a short way to the North, and experts are worried it’s moving quickly. Should we be on the lookout here in Nebraska? This week we’re uncovering how this invasive species and others move from one body of water to another, outlining some of the issues they can cause, and explaining how to keep our waterways safe from the overpopulation of these non-native species.

an upclose shot of the invasive species nitellopsis obtusa

How do invasive species move?

Invasive species are a tricky thing, because it’s hard to always ensure you’re not helping them travel. For species of water-based plants and animals specifically, boat owners and people who utilize recreational water areas and travel to different lakes, rivers, and oceans throughout the boating season are the main mode of transportation. Zebra mussels, for example, attach themselves to the underside of boats, releasing in a new body of water. The starry stonewort plant, native to Eurasia and first introduced accidentally to U.S. waters in the 1970s, uses a similar method, traveling on boats and other water equipment from one body of water to the next.

What are the harms of an invasive species?

Invasive species are harmful to the environments they infect. Invasive species of animals tend to overpopulate and eat up natural resources meant for native species. With no natural predators, they are allowed to reproduce without consequence and can quickly take over an entire water body. Invasive plants, like the starry stonewort, can cause other issues. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) states on its website that starry stonewort can cause dense mats which inhibit recreational use of infected water bodies, outcompete native plants for space, reduce biodiversity, and provide unsuitable shelter which poses a threat to native animal life.

raking starry stonewort out of the water

How to stop invasive species from spreading

First, read up on the area of water you’re spending time in. Most state DNR websites can provide a list of any water bodies infected with an invasive species. If you plan on heading to Minnesota or Wisconsin with a boat or other aquatic equipment (yes, even fishing equipment) anything which touches the water should be thoroughly cleaned, drained, and dried before re-entry into another body of water.

While this problem is a little too far North to worry us yet, it’s very important that individuals take the proper precautions to stop the spread of invasive species in our water supplies. For the latest news on Nebraska’s water, including any threats to it, keep up with the Quality Water Services blog. If you’re looking to get better quality water out of your faucet, call us today to talk about buying or renting a water filtration system in Lincoln or Omaha!