Vermont waterbodies have not “adapted” to milfoil, which is why tremendous effort – including at a significant cost – goes into controlling current infestations and preventing new ones. Milfoil has no natural controls to keep it in check as it does in its native regions. The US Department of Agriculture National Invasive Species Information Center lists Eurasian watermilfoil as an invasive species, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets also designates Eurasian watermilfoil as a Class B Noxious Weed on their Noxious Weeds Quarantine Rule.
We’d encourage you to watch this documentary by the New York DEC: “Uninvited: The Spread of Invasive Species,” which you can view on YouTube. While the 53-minute documentary is worth watching in its entirety, if you fast-forward to the 38 minute mark, you’ll learn a lot about ‘Mother Nature’ and invasive species.
The documentary explains that nature cannot take care of itself after the balance is upset, typically a result of human activity. They offer a good example in the documentary of a reed (common reed or Phragmites) that was used as packing material 400 years ago on ships traveling from Europe. The reeds were thrown on shore and took root here in the US. This invasive reed is now destroying native plant species in wetlands, marshes and along lake shores.
In its native land, Phragmites has 170 different insects that feed on it, which keeps it in check, and that ecosystem is in balance. Here in North America, this plant only has five insects that eat it or have adapted to eat it. This imbalance allows common reed to grow uncontrollably, outcompeting native plant species. So, in over 400 years, nature has not adapted. In fact, the speaker says it would take thousands to hundreds of thousands of years for this reed to act like the plants it has displaced.
Unfortunately, we (humans) interfere with ‘Mother Nature’ all the time by introducing invasive species – knowingly or unknowingly. It is our responsibility to work to control or eradicate invasive species to protect the native species and the ecosystems they have unbalanced.