Hand Harvesting Instructions for Eurasian Milfoil
If you are interested in helping control milfoil, hand harvesting along your shorelines is great way to start. These instructions explain how to properly remove the roots. It can be done by wading in the water or snorkeling.
If you are inexperienced with the suggested equipment or do not feel comfortable with trying this, please feel free to use the Milfoil Reporting tool.
Above all, be careful. You should be a good swimmer. If you are not accustomed to using a mask and snorkel, become proficient in their use before you attempt to use them at a depth greater than a few feet. Start small and shallow, removing milfoil from around your dock and swimming area before you move farther away from shore. It is advisable to have a "buddy" helping you by following closely in a boat. This warns other boaters to keep their distance, as well as helping with collecting the plants you pull. Bottom line: SAFETY FIRST.
WHAT GEAR TO USE:
Mask & Snorkel: If the plants are deeper than 3 feet, these tools may be needed. Swimming goggles also do the trick.
Fins: Helps with diving for deeper plants, but not required.
Gloves: Good to protect your fingers and if you are squeamish of putting your hands in the muck.
Hand Rake: A garden tool is helpful for getting the roots and avoids having to put your hands in the muck.
Net collecting bag: You will need a container to place plants and roots once collected is needed. A finely meshed bag with wire handle that closes is great. (It can be purchased on Amazon). Other solutions could be improvised such as colander.
Diver Down Buoy: If you are snorkeling where there is boat traffic, alert other lake users by using a buoy.
HOW TO PICK MILFOIL:
Remember: Harvesting milfoil plants should include roots and all plant growth. Milfoil can easily spread and regrow from plant fragments. At the end of summer, the plants turn yellowish and become very fragile, so use great care if you are trying to pull them then.
Step 1: You can harvest plants with either one or two hands. Both methods have their proponents. Gently reach behind or on the side(s) the plant with one or both hands with your palm toward the plant's stem and your fingers pointed downward and slightly spread.
Step 2: Push your fingers deep into the bottom next to the plant stem and carefully and slowly pull it towards you. Your fingers should be below the root crown of the plant. You can also use a hand rake to dig under the root crown, but it's helpful to be able to feel the roots with your fingers.
Step 3: Gently pull the bottom of the stem upwards out of the lake bottom. Use your hand as though it were a rake.
Step 4: Place plants in mesh bag or collecting container. You can also gently ball the plant up and place it in a net or container, held by an assistant, or in a kayak or canoe along side of you. A colander has been used.
Step 5: You or your buddy should make sure to collect any stray fragments that may have come off the plant.
Step 6: Dispose of all plant material away from water (least 100 feet from shoreline), preferably in a compost bin. Dry plants are almost weightless and can easily blow back into the lake and rejuvenate. If you don’t have a spot, ask a neighbor or contact the Association thru the milfoil report tool.