DEC. 5 IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Why Christina Lake is happy to go buggy

I never thought I would be so happy to hear Christina Lake has bugs, but I am. In fact, I am ecstatic.

I never thought I would be so happy to hear Christina Lake has bugs, but I am. In fact, I am ecstatic.

Of course, most of you have already figured out I am referring to the milfoil weevils: those little tiny beetles that are as big as a grain of rice and are silver-bellied.

The results are in, the DNA has been tested and eureka they are the right genus; they were found in all stages of development.  It was a long wait, or it sure seemed like it for some of us.  Now the work starts – paper work that is.

Just to fill some of you in that have not kept up with the process; Christina Lake has been fighting milfoil for years. Our taxpayers have also been picking up the tab for treatment without help from any other government agency, municipality or the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) area – it is currently a $300,000 service.

At the same time, we have also been researching other ways to treat the infestation.  The best one we found is the weevil.

It is interesting that such a very small piece of the (milfoil) weed can grow so easily.

I once tested this in my backyard pond. I put a milfoil plant in a pot, then toward the end of the summer, when the water was still really warm, I broke a piece off and let it float.

Considering that I have a black liner in the pond, and little to no soil over the liner, I expected no growth from the fragment.

To my astonishment the fragment took hold in the soft debris covering the liner.  I learned then first-hand just how difficult this plant is to control.  Although eradication would be nice, reality tells us that it would be next to impossible.

During the summer, the RDKB engaged Enviroscience, a private biology firm to undertake a presence/absence survey of Christina Lake to provide evidence that the milfoil weevil is native to the lake.  Enviroscience found over a dozen samples of the weevil.

The RDKB received confirmation from federal government laboratories in Ottawa that the weevil found is Euhrychiopsis  lecontei (Dietz), the weevil that eats milfoil.

Alan Stanley, RDKB director of environmental services stated, “Once there was proof that the weevil is native to Christina Lake, the RDKB contacted provincial government officials to determine the next steps in acquiring approval to test the weevil as a milfoil control agent.”

We are currently waiting for return calls from the province to find out what the next steps are.  In the meantime, it is important for everyone on the lake to know that the double dive team this year has done phenomenal work and made a huge dent in the existing milfoil.  We will continue the double dive team.

Do we know how long it will take to get approval to use the little critters?  The short answer is no.

We are hoping that the province will help pave the way to expedite this process. Having said that, it remains anyone’s guess as to timing.

I continue to be optimistic and excited about the prospect of using this form of bio control as treatment of this very invasive weed and ultimately being able to lower our service requisition amount to a number more palatable to all of Christina Lakes taxpayers.

– Grace McGregor is RDKB Area C director

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