Invasive species are a threat to biodiversity and outdoor recreation in Ontario. Some species even have the potential to impact water flow and water quality.

Cataraqui Conservation is actively using EDDMapS to monitor invasive species in our jurisdiction and use this information to help target efforts in combating the spread of invasive species. We encourage people in the Cataraqui Watershed to register and use the EDDMapS app to become more aware of invasive species in their lakes and engage in invasive species management. You can also report sightings of invasive species to the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-800-536-7711.

Phragmites Removal Assistance

Summer 2024

Check back the third week of June, 2024 to book assistance options. Timing of assistance will happen once plants are growing and in water work is allowed and after fish spawning time.

  • Small patches (under 400 metres square)
  • Growing in standing water (much higher eradication success)
  • Safely accessible

Options for assistance include:

  • CLOSED until 2024 season - Cataraqui Conservation staff time for half day on weekdays to lead volunteers for on-site removal. If it's available and suitable for use at the site staff may also bring a gas powered cutter to reduce workload.
  • CLOSED until 2024 season - Borrowing Phragmites removal kits to use on your own time: raspberry cane cutters, spade shovels, tarps, and other hand tools.


You can reduce the spread of invasive species

1. Guard against introduction or spreading

  • Clean + Drain + Dry your boat
  • Buy non-invasive garden plants from reputable sources.
  • Do not dump unwanted plants, yard debris, or animals
  • Clean your gear when moving from an area with invasive species
  • Familiarize yourself with invasive species in your area so you can identify them (EDDMapS/iNaturalist)

Clean + drain + dry your boat.

2. Know how to identify aquatic invaders

3. Report what you find

  • Early detection is key to prevent further spread and necessary if the species is to be eliminated.
  • Submitting invasive species observations via EDDMapS (Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System) is a great way for control organizations, conservation authorities, municipalities, and community groups to know about the locations of invasive species so that management plants can be developed.

4. Take action to remove newly established plants

Aquatic Invaders

Stop the Spread

European Common Reed or Phragmites, is a highly invasive plant affecting wetlands, lake shores, and streams by out competing all native vegetation. It is abundant in our region; however, it is under reported, making it difficult to quantify the problem.

Phragmites is a species of grass that forms monocultures, out competing other plant species. It alters nutrient cycling and hydrology in ecosystems and can disrupt the natural habitats of many animals. It spreads by its extensive root systems, off shoots of the stock, and by seeds.

Illustration of the phragmites plant

You have likely seen patches of European Common Reed (generally referred to as invasive Phragmites) along roadsides because it can be transported there during construction projects and roadside ditches are optimal sites for invasive Phragmites growth. Its presence on roadsides can block the view at intersections, increasing collision risks. This invasive grass also interferes with recreation, decreases property values, damages infrastructure, and presents a fire hazard due to its dense growth.


As with any invasive species, you can help by reporting sightings through EDDMapsS or the Invasive Species Hotline: 1-800-536-7711.

Phragmites Removal


By cutting the stem of Phragmites under the water, you can prevent the plant from getting oxygen which will kill it. Use a tool such as a raspberry cane cutter or pruners to cut the stalk of the plant as close to the sediment as possible. This should be performed in water of approximately 50 cm in depth or deeper. It is best to perform this procedure in midsummer before the seed heads develop. This brief video from Hamilton Conservation Authority shows how to cut and remove in-water Phragmites.

Note: you should avoid phragmites removal during spawning, nesting, and breeding seasons of species at risk since some of these species now use this plant as part of their habitat (many have no choice).


Spading can be used to remove Phragmites on land. It is not as effective as in-water removals, and it will be necessary to repeat removal in following season.

how to spade remove phragmites

Be on the lookout

We are especially watching for the spread of European Water Chestnut and Water Soldier as it is very near our inland watersheds or known to be present in one location so far.

The European Water Chestnut is a plant whose leaves float on the surface of the water. Individuals tend to grow close together, preventing light from penetrating into the water, resulting in the death of other aquatic plants and algae. This reduces oxygen in the water, harming fish and other aquatic animals. The sharp points to European Water Chestnut seeds can also cause injury when stepped on.

water chestnut idenfication

Current reported sightings indicate that the European Water Chestnut is located near the Cataraqui Region around Wolfe Island and in Smiths Falls. It has also been reported in the Cataraqui River downstream of Kingston Mills.

Water Soldier is the second aquatic invasive plant that has not yet spread to an unmanageable level in the Cataraqui Region. It looks much like the top of a pineapple and grows in soft sediment and is lightly rooted in place. Generally, water soldier grows through offshoots, but it also produces flowers and seeds. It forms dense mats, crowding out other species, interfering with recreation and changing water chemistry and hydrology.

water soldier idenfication information

Water Soldier sightings have been reported in Bethany, southwest of Napanee and there is a population of water soldier in Red Horse Lake that was first reported in 2020.

Both European Water Chestnut and Water Soldier can be easily removed by hand pulling or raking when detected soon after they are introduced into an area. However, if left to colonize an area, they will require more labour and potentially the use of herbicides to remove.

Please help us monitor these high priority invasive species by using EDDMapS, calling us, or calling the Invasive Species Hotline. This will help control agencies to act before the invasion gets large and requires more intensive eradication methods. By cleaning trailers, boats, and fishing equipment you can help reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species.