Invasive Plant Threatens Deer Point Lake

Fred Andrews first noticed a new plant growing in the pond behind his house 14 weeks ago.

"It's just terrible how fast it's growing, it's almost reached the dock out here coming from the other end down there. And I told someone awhile go, it's like Sherman's march through Georgia, it was coming on," said Andrews.\

Not wanting Giant Salvinia to take Florida as easily as Sherman took Savannah, the FWC brought in invasive species biologist Matt Phillips.

"Biologically it has no natural enemies, so it takes over. When you see it like it gets in southern Louisiana, it covers entire water bodies," says Phillips.

Texas and Louisiana spend millions fighting Giant Salvinia each year. The discovery at Andrews' pond is one of only four known in Florida.

"Deer Point Lake is just a stones throw, literally from this location. So we really want to prevent this plant from finding its way into the public drinking water system of Bay County," said Phillips.

Phillips says the small floating plant native to South America can cover waterways, impeding water flow and creating ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos.

For now it appears contained, but biologists will be searching Deer Point Lake the next couple weeks to make sure it hasn't spread.

It's not known how the invasive species arrived in northwest Florida.