wsmd home
public notices
dec home > wsmd home > lakes & ponds > aquatic invasive species
click to go to Protect Your Waters website
Aquatic Invasive Species in Vermont

To Report an Aquatic Invasive Species Sighting in Vermont

Call 802-490-6120

This Aquatic Invasive Species section of the Watershed Management Division web site presents information regarding aquatic invasive species, nonnative species whose introduction can cause environmental or economic harm or harm to human health, and nuisance species, native species that reach proportions of abundance that may cause economic harm or harm to human health. The Vermont Aquatic Invasive Species  Program coordinates management activities associated with aquatic invasive and nuisance species. Priority species of concern at this time are listed below.


Click on an image for more information on each species.


click here to learn more about water chestnut Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is a glossy, green, triangular-leaved annual plant that can easily choke the waterbodies it invades, out-compete native plants, and reduce oxygen levels which can increase the potential for fish kills. Dense, nearly impenetrable water chestnut growth can make fishing, hunting, swimming, boating, and other recreational activities nearly impossible. Its sharply spined fruits wash ashore and can be hazardous to people who step on them. click here to learn more about Eurasian watermilfoil Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) is a rooted, submerged perennial plant that grows rapidly, producing dense stands. It aggressively competes with native plant communities reducing biodiversity. Dense mats clog propellers, impair swimming, restrict boating and fishing accesses, and affect water quality.
click here to learn more about zebra mussels Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are small barnacle-like mollusks. They have caused some serious economic and environmental problems in many areas. These mussels are highly prolific and able to form dense colonies out-competing native species. They feed by filtering plankton out of the water which impacts water clarity and alters the food web. click here to learn more about purple loosestrife Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a wetland perennial plant able to out-compete native vegetation due to its high germination rate, and abundant and easily transported seed. Dense growth can eliminate food and shelter for wildlife including shallow water fish spawning grounds.
click here to learn more about alewife Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) is a marine fish from the herring family capable of surviving in freshwater. They reproduce quickly and can soon become the most dominant fish species in a lake. Alewife are very efficient feeders and consume huge quantities of zooplankton which enable them to out-compete other species. Image of variable-leaved milfoil


Variable-leaved watermilfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) is a rooted, submerged perennial plant that was first confirmed in a Vermont lake in 2008.  Like its cousin Eurasian watermilfoil, variable-leaved watermilfoil is aggressive and grows rapidly, and dense growth can crowd out beneficial native aquatic plants reducing biodiversity.  It can also impair recreational uses including swimming, boating and fishing.


rusty crayfish Rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) can be identified by their robust claws with black bands on the tips, and dark, rusty spots on each side of their body. They can out-compete native species, forcing native crayfish from daytime hiding areas and destroying aquatic plant beds. Rusty crayfish have likely been spread into numerous waterbodies in Vermont by anglers using them for bait. man holding clumps of didymo

Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) is a nuisance algae (diatom) species capable of forming thick mats on river and stream bottoms with potentially significant impacts to fisheries and other habitat. (Picture at left from New Zealand)



What is the State Doing?


  • Vermonters and visitors to our state are learning about aquatic invasive species through a variety of educational materials: pamphlets and newsletters, slide shows, identification posters, metal boater warning signs, and public meetings.
  • Surveys that assess the types and amounts of aquatic plants growing in a water body are conducted to monitor existing plant growth and to detect newly introduced invasive plant populations.
  • A citizen-based, early detection program, the Vermont Invasive Patrollers (VIP) Program, trains volunteers to search water bodies for new aquatic invasive species infestations.
  • A net-work of trained Public Access Greeters (pdf, 577KB) offer visual inspections of boats and associated equipment to locate and remove any plant material or animals, and educate water users on the importance of spread prevention and appropriate spread prevention techniques. Clean Boats, Clean Waters (pdf, 220KB) is a list and description of the workshops being offered in 2014.
  • The Program keeps abreast of current research to learn of improved aquatic invasive species control methods and their applicability for use in Vermont.
  • Demonstration projects have been implemented on a number of Vermont lakes to evaluate new control methods as well as to refine established techniques.
  • Technical assistance on aquatic invasive and nuisance species control is provided to towns, water body associations, and others.
  •  Financial assistance is available through the Aquatic Nuisance Control Grant-in-Aid grant program in the form of grants to municipalities for qualified applicants to implement restoration, management, or protection projects.
  • The overland movement of boats, personal watercraft, fishing gear, and other water-based equipment is a significant means by which aquatic invasive species “hitch a ride” between water bodies. The transport of all aquatic plants, zebra mussels and quagga mussels is illegal in Vermont.


Transport sign
You Can Help!


Prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

Before moving boats between waterbodies:

  • CLEAN off any mud, plants, and animals from boat, trailer, motor and other equipment.  Discard removed material in a trash receptacle or on high, dry ground where there is no danger of them washing into any water body.
  • DRAIN all water from boat, boat engine, and other equipment away from the water.
  • DRY anything that comes into contact with the water.  Drying boat, trailer and equipment in the sun for at least five days is recommended if rinsing your boat, trailer parts and other equipment with hot, high pressure water is not an option.


Early Detection

Financial Assistance




Resources, Publications



Spread Prevention

 Voluntary Guidelines to Prevent the Introduction and Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species: Recreational Activities: 

 Voluntary Guidelines to Prevent the Introduction and Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species: Water Gardening: 

Please share with anyone who may be interested. Thanks!

VT DEC Watershed Management Division 1 National Life Drive, Main 2  Montpelier, VT  05620-3522  Tele: 802-828-1535   Fax: 802-828-1544


State of Vermont Agencies & Depts.     Access Government 24/7     About Vermont.Gov     Privacy Policy

A Vermont Government Website Copyright 2003 State of Vermont - All rights reserved