Water Hyacinth Control — Easily Kill Water Hyacinth in Ponds or Lakes

Water Hyacinth Control

Water Hyacinth is one of the fastest growing plants known. Its primary means of reproduction is by way of runners or stolons, which eventually form daughter plants. It also produces large quantities of seeds that are viable for up to 30 years. Because of water hyacinth’s ability to quickly reproduce, populations often double in size in just two weeks.

In the North America, water hyacinth is considered an invasive species. When not controlled, it will rapidly and thoroughly cover entire surfaces of lakes and ponds – dramatically impacting water flow, blocking sunlight to native submerged plants, and starving the water of oxygen; often killing wildlife such as fish. Water hyacinth is an aggressive invader and can form thick mats. It is very important to control water hyacinth before the entire water surface is covered. In Florida, water hyacinth once clogged up and choked a major waterway.

Water hyacinth control is difficult. The most effective methods of control rely on prevention. Make sure to control the nutrient levels in your pond or lake to prevent the rapid and explosive growth. Do not introduce water hyacinth to new ponds unless you are willing to monitor it and take action if its growth gets out of control. It is advised that you only introduce water hyacinth to your own personal ornamental water gardens. Introducing it into natural water bodies is asking for trouble. When harvesting or otherwise removing water hyacinth, do not discard it in a natural water way, instead put it into a compost pile.

The herbicide that recommend using for Water Hyacinth control is Glyphosate 5.4. This herbicide should be sprayed onto the plants.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to us about hyacinth control, please feel free to call us at: 1-877-428-8898

Water Hyacinth Identification

Water Hyacinth is a floating perennial plant that is native to the Amazon and has spread to much of the southern united states. It prefers warmer climates and has board, thick, and glossy leaves that are 10-20 cm across. The hanging roots of the plant feathery and purplish-black in color.

Water Hyacinth can grow in height to as much as 1 meter above the surface of the water. It is supported by an erect stalk that has a single spike of 8-15 flowers. The flowers are usually lavender and pink in color and have six petals.

Water hyacinth has no known direct food value for wildlife and is therefore considered a pest species. However, the hanging roots are often inhabited by invertebrates, which are in turn eaten by other aquatic species (amphibians, reptiles, etc).

Water hyacinth is popular among owners of ornamental water gardens because of its beautiful flowers and tropical appearance. However, due to control difficulties, we do not recommend the introduction of water hyacinth to natural water bodies. If you observe it growing in your pond with out your doing, you should take steps to eliminate it before the plant takes over the entire water body.


10 Insects to Look Out For Around the Waterways

With summer in full swing it’s time to show our appreciation for insects. Here are just 10 mini beasts who have come out of hiding and are using our waterways. Waterways can play an integral part in the lifecycle of our many our native invertebrates. Here are just a few you can expect to see when exploring your local waterways this summer.

1. Emperor Dragonfly

Probably our most well known and easily recognisable dragonfly is the Emperor Dragonfly. Our fascination with this dragonfly comes from its bulkiness and sheer size, yet these features do not detract from its agility and grace whilst in flight. Coming in two colours, blue for males and green for females the two sexes are easily distinguishable from one another. This species is most likely to be found near or on large ponds and lakes, but are often found skimming along canals and other slow flowing water bodies hunting for its prey. On a rare occasion you may see this frantic flyer resting on marginal vegetation found alongside Britain’s waterways.

Photo: Adult Emperor Dragonfly (M) look for the continual black line that runs down this species segmented abdomen (Photo by: Quartl (Own work) [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons)

2. Mayfly

Don’t be fooled by this fly’s name. Many of the 51 species of UK Mayfly can be found skirting through the air and along our waterways outside the month of May. A dainty fly, this species can be recognised by its long, fine tail bristles, clear wings and short antennae. With their wings situated vertically over their bodies, these flies spend their very short lives airborne looking for a mate. You may be lucky and on a clear day see the Mayfly nymph (characterised by their ‘three tails’) underwater where they spend most of their lives. The Mayfly plays an important role within the food chain providing food for a variety of species including bats and amphibians. You can do this species a favour and help these pollution-sensitive critters by ensuring your boat, car or house doesn’t leak potential contaminants into the waterways.

Photo: Adult Mayfly resting on vegetation (Photo by: Teppo Mutanen [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Banded Demoiselle

The Banded Demoiselle is one of only two UK species of damselfly with obviously coloured wings; the other being the Beautiful Demoiselle. The male Banded Demoiselle is often more striking than its female counterpart having an iridescent blue-green body colour and a ‘fingertip’ black-blue mark at the midpoint of the wing. The female on the other hand has pale light green wings and a green and bronze body. Unlike the Emperor Dragonfly, the Banded Demoiselle has slower and more flutter-like flight akin to that of a butterfly. Preferring slow-flowing lowland water bodies with muddy bottoms, this species can be a common site resting on bank side vegetation or flying along a waterway.

Photo: Banded Demoiselle (M) characterised by its iridescent blue green body and fingertip mark on its wings. (Photo by: Alex Melson)

4. Whirligig Beetle

You need only peer over the deck of your boat or over the side of the towpath to catch a glimpse of the Whirligig Beetle. Made up of 12 similar species of beetles, these beetles are black with an oval body shape and have the back two legs adapted into short, flat paddles for its aquatic lifestyle. They are found rapidly skimming the surface of water bodies in groups, preying upon small invertebrates unfortunate enough to fall into the water. They are also well adapted to diving underwater to catch prey.

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Photo: Whirligig Beetels darting around on the waterways. (Photo by harum.koh f (Whirligig beetles (Gyrinus japonicus)) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

5. Water Boatmen and Backswimmers

If Whirligig Beetles are the Ferrari of surface dwelling invertebrates, that would make the water boatmen the Reliant Robin, spending more time on its back than anything. Although this is not entirely true as some species swim on their fronts . To clear up confusions ecologists now refer to these two species as Water Boatmen or Backswimmers. You guessed it, the ones who swim on their backs are called Backswimmers and those on their front are Water Boatmen. Brown in appearance and having two long hairy hind legs used for paddling, they use their smaller front legs for scooping up food. Another difference to note is that Backswimmers are carnivorous, whilst the Water Boatmen are vegetarian. Look out for these guys on calm or slow moving waterbodies.

Photo: Backswimmer using its enlongated hind legs to paddle along the waters surface.(Photo by:Holger Gröschl (http://www.naturspektrum.de/ns1.htm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons)

6. Wasp Spider

A striking arachnid, the Wasp Spider receives its name after its body pattern resembling a wasps colouration. Fear not however as this spider is completely harmless and its exotic colouration is a means of defence to deter would be predators. With its black and yellow pattern it is a very easy species to identify. You will find this critter building its orb web in grasslands, but this species is also known to live in gardens, woodlands, farmland and coastal areas, so it wouldn’t be a push to say they may be living along the waterways. The Wasp Spider is a relatively new arrival to the UK as of 1920’s from the Mediterranean and their spread north as a result from a warming climate.

Photo: Wasp Spider awaiting for prey to become entangled into its orb web (Photo by: Andreas Eichler [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

7. Painted Lady Butterfly

With so many butterflies that frequent UK waterways how do you choose which one to highlight? The Painted Lady migrates from the desert fringes in Africa to Europe and the UK in time for summer. This butterfly has orange-brown wings with black and white spots on its forewing. With its undersides mottled brown with spots. In a good year the Painted Lady can be seen almost anywhere in the UK. For your best chance to spot this butterfly and in fact most butterfly species, look out for them mid-morning to late afternoon on a sunny and windless day, paying close attention to flowering plants along the banks.

Photo: Painted Lady Butterfly collecting nectar after a long migration form Africa. (Photo by: Jörg Hempel [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons)

8. White-Tailed Bumblebee

In the UK there are 25 species of bumblebee to spot. The White-Tailed Bumblebee is one of the more common ones you will see buzzing around from March through to November. As the name suggests this Bumblebee has a bright white tail and black and yellow bands. This species is very similar to other bumblebees and can be difficult to tell apart. The males however do have extra yellow tufts on their head and thorax (middle segment). With bumblebee populations in decline due to habitat loss, canals and navigations can play a major role in providing a wildlife corridor to connect fragmented habitats that bees could traverse, especially when planted with flowers.

Photo: White-Tailed Bumblebee. (Photo by: Ivar Leidus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

9. Grasshopper

You are more likely to hear the grasshopper than see it. With most UK grasshoppers being various shades of green or brown or both to blend into their preferred habitat, they can be extremely difficult to spot. The main difference between a grasshopper and a cricket is that the grasshopper has short antennae. They are vegetarians opting to eat grass, leaves, corn and other vegetation. You will find these critters inhabiting areas of long grass where plenty of food can be found.

Photo: Meadow Grasshoppers are one of our more common species of Grasshoppers, look for the brown stripe down their back and green sides. (Photo by Charlesjsharp (Own work, from Sharp Photography) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

10. Shield bug

Another terrestrial bug to keep and eye out for is the shield bug. An adult of this species is easy to recognise by either its flattish oval shape or five-sided shield shape. These critters often adorn brown or green colourations similar to their food plant, as to avoid predation from birds and other predators. Close inspection of vegetation will give you the best chances of seeing these interesting little true bugs’. It is often seen that Shield Bugs show parental care and defend their young, by releasing a pungent smelling liquid to ward of predators or to remain close to where their eggs are laid.

Photo: Recently shed Hawthorne Shield Bug will gradually lose its orange colour as its new exoskeleton hardens, during this stage the bug is very susceptible to predation from birds (Photo by: Alex Melson)


If you’re interested in finding out more about amazing creatures visit national insect week and see what is going on in your area.

Wild Over Waterways

WOW is The Inland Waterways Association’s programme of activities for children to learn more about wildlife using our waterway network. Visit Wild Over Waterways to download activities for kids and m enthused by nature.



Please practice social distancing even when outdoors.

Protect your health and that of others by following state and local orders related to the pandemic. Please follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services website.

If you plan to go outside, stay close to home and check the status of the location you’re planning to visit.

Some Texas state parks, TPWD offices, public recreation facilities and water access points are closed.


Mantenga una distancia segura.

Gracias por proteger la salud de todos y por seguir las órdenes estatales y locales. Lea la guía de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) y el Departamento de Servicios de Salud del Estado de Texas (HHS) .

Si sale afuera, quédase cerca de casa, y verifíque el estado del lugar que planea visitar. Algunos parques estatales, oficinas del Departamento, instalaciones de recreación pública y puntos de acceso al agua están cerrados.

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Common Freshwater Organisms

Mosquito fish. Fish Up to 2 1/2″
They live in ditches, ponds, and lakes eating mosquito larvae and other insects. Mosquito fish give birth to live young.

Tadpole. Amphibian. 1/8 to 3″
Tadpoles are young frogs and toads. They eat algae and decaying aquatic plants.

Crawfish or Crayfish.Crustacean. Up to 6″
Crayfish live in and around water. They feed on both plants and animals. When burrowing, crayfish produce mud «chimneys».

Fairy Shrimp. Crustacean. 1/3 to 1″
They are usually found in shallow, temporary pools. Fairy shrimp feed by filtering animals and plants from the water while swimming on their back.

Copepods.Crustacean. Almost microscopic
Some copepods are filter-feeders, some seize and bite their prey, and others scrape food from the bottom of the pond or stream.

Scuds.Crustacean. Up to 3/4″
Also called «sideswimmers», they are scavengers, feeding on decaying plant and animal material. The scud is usually found near the bottom of a pond or under vegetation. They look like large fleas.

Isopods. Crustacean. Up to 3/4″
Isopods eat dead animals and living or dead plants. They are found under rocks and plants.

Seed Shrimp. crustacean. Pinhead sized
Seed Shrimp look very similar to small clams but they are fast swimmers. They eat dead plant and animal material.

Water Mites. Arachnid. Pinhead sized
Water Mites are usually red and look like tiny spiders. The eat plants and animals.

Clams. Mollusk. 1/4 to 1 1/2″
Clams burrow into the mud leaving one end sticking out to filter feed. They are found in rivers, lakes and ponds.

Snails. Mollusk. 1/4 to 1″
Snails eat diatoms, plants, and algae. Some of them breathe air from a «lung,» an air-filled cavity so they can live in water with little oxygen.

Diving Beetle. Insect. 1/4 to 2″
They trap air under their wings to breathe underwater. Diving beetles eat small aquatic animals. Their bite is painful.

Water Boatman. Insect. Up to 1/4″
They must carry an air bubble to breathe underwater. The air bubble surrounds the insect giving it a silvery appearance. Water boatmen feed on both plants and animals.

Backswimmer. Insect. 1/2″
To breathe underwater, they carry a bubble of air beneath their wings. Backswimmers swim on their back searching for small animals to eat. These insects are similar to water boatmen but twice as big.

Damselfly Nymph. Insect. 1/4 to 1″
This is a young damselfly. It is often confused with the dragonfly nymph but it has three gills on the end of the abdomen. It eats small animals.

Dragonfly Nymph. Insect. 1/4 to 1″
This is a young dragonfly. Unlike the damselfly nymph, its gills are located on the inside of its body. It eats small aquatic insects, worms, crustaceans and fish.

Mayfly Nymph. Insect. 1/4 to 1″
These are young mayflies. They have 2-3 tail parts. Mayfly nymphs feed on small plants, and animals and sometimes scavenge.

Giant Water Bug. Insect. 1 1/2 to 3″
They eat animals as large as tadpoles and small fish. Giant water bugs kill their prey by secreting a poison when they bite. The male carries his future children on his back, when they are still eggs. Nicknamed «toebiters,» because their bite is painful.

Mosquito Larvae. Insect. 1/8 to 1/2″
These young mosquitoes hang by a breathing tube from the water surface. Mosquito larvae feed on tiny plants and animals while the adult mosquitoes feed on nectar and ripe fruit. However, female mosquitoes also feed on the blood of animals.

Midge Fly Larvae. Insect. Up to 1/4″
They are young midge flies. They are worm-like with two tiny legs on each side.

Water Scorpion. Insect. Up to 3″
The water scorpion breathes air underwater by projecting a breathing tube through the water’s surface to the air. Water scorpions are predators seizing small aquatic organisms with their front legs. Their bite is painful.

Waterstrider or Pondskater. Insect. 1/4 to 1″
These insects skate on top of the water’s surface. They feed on insects or small crustaceans caught just below the surface. Waterstriders are often seen in large groups.


Water bug (photo) — small and giant hunters of lakes and ponds

A knock at the side door was an all too welcome excuse to push back from the keyboard in my basement office. From the foot of the stairs, I could see who it was through the aluminum door. «Hi, Rita,» I said. It was a neighbour from across the street.

«Hi, Doug,» she answered. «There’s this huge insect, like a giant cockroach on the road. I thought you might want to see it.» (That, of course, was something that Rita already new. As the «critter guy» in the neighbourhood, she knew I’d want to investigate anything!)

«You bet,» I said. «Is it still alive?» I asked as we headed down the sidewalk towards the front street.

«Yeah, it was crawling around,» she replied. «It’s really big.» She pointed to the spot where she’d seen it, but the motion on the asphalt had already caught my eye. And my initial suspicions were confirmed.

«Oh, cool, it’s a giant water bug!» I exclaimed as I broke into a trot, then stooped down and grabbed the creature before it could fly away or get run over. I held it up for Rita to see. «It’s a nice big one. Wow, that’s got to be over 5 cm long.» She came a little closer for a better look.


They get their other common name: «toe-biter», as they have been know to deliver a painful bite to the odd lower appendage being dangled off a dock.

«Ooh, weird . . . oh, I think I’ve seen those before,» she said. And she probably had. Giant water bugs are quite common and it’s not out of the ordinary for one to be crawling around on dry land. I explained to her that although this was an aquatic insect, it had wings and was a powerful flyer. They are frequently attracted to lights at night, hence another one of their common names: «electric light bug». In so doing they often become disoriented and it’s not uncommon to find them in cities along roads or parking lots, having been drawn to street lights. Over the years, I’ve found many a giant water bug crawling along a stretch of concrete, or schmooshed on it. And I’ve only ever come across one live one in a pond. «So what are you going to do with it?» she asked.

«Turn it into a Summer Issue Bug Feature on NatureNorth!» I replied. And here it is.

Biology of Giant Water Bugs

The Giant Water Bug that had the good fortune to be rescued by me, rather than being left to get run over on the road turned out to be a specimen of Lethocerus americanus. This is probably the most common species of giant water bug found in Manitoba, although information about them is spotty. I wasn’t able to track down exactly how many species we have, but there’s likely at least two. Giant Water Bugs belong to the Family: Belostomatidae and fall within the Order: Hemiptera (the bugs), of the Class: Insecta (insects). There are perhaps 150 species of Giant Water Bugs worldwide with the largest being up to 150 mm long (6 inches)!

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The habitat of Giant Water Bugs in Manitoba includes ponds, marshes, lakes and slow moving rivers and streams. Lethocerus americanus is widely distributed in North America, but as with many creatures, its exact range in this province isn’t known. They are certainly found throughout most of the southern half of the province. If you northern Manitobans have any information on the subject, please let us know.

Adult Giant Water Bugs are most often encountered by people when they are out of their natural element, the water. Adults often fly around, perhaps searching for other water bodies to colonize or for mates. They fly mainly at night and it’s thought that they use light sources (before humans this was the moon or stars) as beacons to orient their flight. With the advent of electric lights, Giant Water Bugs, and a lot of other insects, (moths for example) faced a hitherto unknown situation, light sources that were not at a fixed point in the sky. These light sources were close enough that they appear to move as the insect flies, unlike the distant moon or stars. The net result of trying to navigate using a point of light that you think should stay fixed, but which in fact isn’t, tends to be flight that spirals in toward the light. Water bugs and other insects may not be «attracted» to lights as much as they are disoriented by them and once too near the light can’t find any other beacon to navigate by. In the end they become exhausted from aimlessly flying around the light and end up lying on the ground below street lights on roads or parking lots.

In late spring or early summer the adult bugs mate and the female glues her eggs on the stems of emergent vegetation or other structures just above the water’s surface. The male remains nearby to protect them and to keep them moist by periodically crawling out of the water and over top of the eggs. The young are called nymphs and hatch in about 2 weeks. The nymphs resemble the adults and go through 5 developmental stages, shedding their skin to move from one stage to the next. This is known as «simple» metamorphosis. In the «complete» metamorphosis of butterflies and other insects, larvae don’t resemble the adults and there is a resting or pupal stage prior to emergence of the fully formed adult. Adult water bugs overwinter in water bodies. (I wasn’t able to find out when the last moult from nymph to adult occurs in Manitoba. Does anybody out there know? If so, please drop us a line.)

As larvae, Giant Water Bugs obtain oxygen through their cuticle (skin), but the adults must breath air directly. They do this, and remain under water, by means of a snorkel-like appendage at the base of their abdomens. This tube allows for the exchange of air from the atmosphere to a bubble of air trapped under the wings. Air enters the insect’s body through holes, called spiracles, in the abdomen.

Giant Water Bugs, and their nymphs, are fierce predators feeding on small fish, tadpoles, salamanders, even small frogs. They usually hunt by lying-in-ambush clutching a submerged plant or rock with only their breathing tube sticking above the surface. Any passing motion can trigger a rapid «lunge and grab» with the hook-tipped front legs. (My captive bug would even lunge and grab the net or anything else I stuck into the aquarium. I had been warned not to stick my fingers in front of its face and I willingly complied. ) If prey is successfully grasped it is quickly dispatched with a pierce from the bug’s needle-like rostrum (fused mouth parts) and an injection of toxic enzymes. These enzymes poison the prey and begin to digest it at the same time. Once the enzymes have completed their job the bug again uses its rostrum, but this time sucks out the pre-digested soup that was its prey, leaving a limp bag of skin. If this critter sounds like some kind of mini-monster, don’t despair. In the orient, giant water bugs are renowned as a great delicacy, so, as always, critters seem to have more to fear from us than we from them.

The bug’s hunting technique is not limited to lying in wait. It will actively swim after prey that is a ways off or that it has missed on its first lunge. The hind legs are paddle-shaped and equipped with long hairs that fan out as the leg is stroked to increase its effective surface area. Giant water bugs can swim, or scull, through the water rapidly in search of prey or to evade becoming prey themselves.

Giant Water Bugs, ya gotta love’em! So, keep your eyes peeled in parking lots near water, but if you find a live one, pick it up carefully!

A «Critters in the Classroom» Quickie!

If you are lucky enough to find a live giant water bug, they are easy to maintain in captivity. All you need is a small aquarium and some form of live food to offer. Motion triggers their attack so they will only eat live, moving or wriggling prey. Set up the aquarium with a «bubbler» to keep the water oxygenated. Place some sticks or other structures into the aquarium for the bug to hold onto, while it «lies-in-wait for prey». And make sure you have a lid on the aquarium; remember, these guys can fly!

You can feed it tadpoles, small fish or worms, about once every 4 or 5 days if the food items are quite large, compared to the bug. If the food items are small then feed it more often. Watch carefully when you add the «prey» as it may be caught and paralyzed almost instantly. If you don’t have any live food available you could still keep the bug for several days, but then release it back into a pond or creek. A few days in captivity won’t harm it. And its probably better off to have been rescued by you than to have laid around on the road where you found it!

Thanks for learning about Giant Water Bugs! Bye for now!


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