Invasive Species – OVERVIEW

FOCA is very concerned about the potential impacts of introduced species and the effect they can have on our quality of life in Ontario. We have already seen the impacts from the many existing and looming invasive species introductions, including forest pests like the Emerald Ash Borer, aquatics like the Zebra Mussel and Asian Carp. These invaders have proven to alter the environment, damage our economy, and negatively impact our communities.

How can you help prevent the spread of invasive species in cottage country? Some general best practices are:

  • garden using only non-invasive plants
  • dispose of bait properly
  • buy firewood locally
  • inspect and clean your boat & motor when changing water bodies

Know what to look for and then take action!

icon: magnifying glassIf you identify any invading species near your cottage call the Invading Species hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or visit Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program.


January 2021 – Tackling the problem of invasive Phragmites (European Common Reed) – FOCA is part of the Green Shovels Coalition, a collaborative of conservation organizations with a shared interest in protecting nature and the economy. With funding support from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, part of our goal is to prepare a Strategic Framework for Phragmites Management in Ontario. This project aligns with the actions set out in the Made In Ontario Environment Plan, Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy, Ontario Invasive Species Strategy and Invasive Species Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Endangered Species Act, and other important provincial, national, and binational conservation benchmarks.

FOCA is seeking the input, advice and on-the ground action of local groups that are concerned with managing this invader. How can you participate?

  1. Complete the survey at to share your experiences with controlling this plant (survey closes early February 2021);
  2. Undertake a 2021 Phragmites project in your community. FOCA will be providing funds to interested associations in support of these projects. To inquire about this opportunity, contact Details about available funding will be released in the coming weeks.

The Green Shovels Coalition includes:

  • Invasive Species Centre
  • Ducks Unlimited Canada
  • Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada
  • Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
  • Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre

January 26, 2021 – Invasive mussels now control a key nutrient in the American Great Lakes
(University of Minnesota)

July 30, 2020 – FOCA webinar: Understanding the Gypsy Moth




More information about Gypsy Moths:

July 22, 2020 – How Ontario is battling a very hungry caterpillar (TVO) – Gypsy-moth caterpillars are killing trees throughout the province.

July 15, 2020 – Eastern Ontario in grip of worst Gypsy moth outbreak in 30 years (Belleville Intelligencer)

July 9, 2020 – Forests in Peterborough and the Kawarthas are under attack (Peterborough Examiner)

February 2020 – Ontario’s Invasive Species Act, 2015 is the subject of an Environmental Bill of Rights posting open from February 13, 2020 until April 14, 2020, and relates to listing 13 more species as invaders within the Act. In addition, MNRF wants to determine if current education focused on Clean, Drain, Dry principles and practices should be made mandatory through regulation under the Act.

Other Invasives Fact Sheets and Resources:

Click here to see a time series showing the spread of one invader (Zebra Mussels) starting in 1986 (From USGS) 

image: asterix button

Find out more about invasive species in Ontario: click here for a link to the Cottager Action Plan that you can also download and share.

Older News & Other Links:

July 2020 – read about Starry Stonewort in Kawarthas waterbodies (Drew Monkman)

February 21, 2020 – Saskatchewan Releases New Aquatic Invasive Species Strategy – This new Strategy (PDF 19 pages, 1.5MB) recognizes that prevention is the most economically effective approach, and has a focus on partnerships to support education, awareness, prevention, early detection and management.Aug.7, 2019 – Meet the ‘Most Wanted’ Invaders of Lake Simcoe. Click here for the article.

December 2017 – Collaborative fights Phragmites with international approach. Read the article from the International Joint Commission (IJC) here.

April 2017 – planning your garden? Read this Toronto Star article about plant selection, and avoiding invasives

February 2017 – the film “Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes” is a documentary about invasive species. Watch the trailer here.

A Case Study:

September 2016 – (The University of Wisconsin) Trophic Cascades / Unforeseen impacts of invasive species – Milwaukee and the National Park Service has been helping to research the causes of botulism poisoning in birds along the shores of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park. Leading this team is Dr. Harvey Bootsma. In describing the impacts of invasive species (quagga mussels) on the state of Lake Michigan, Dr. Bootsma was quoted saying:

“…if you went to Yellowstone Park and the bison were gone, there would be an uproar it would be really obvious and the Park just wouldn’t be the same. Yet the changes to Lake Michigan have been far more dramatic than that. If you looked at the change in species in the lake over the last 20 years – it’s a whole new system. Most of the public – and most policy makers – aren’t really fully aware how dramatic these changes are, and how fundamentally the lake has changed…”

For more, visit:

Michelle LewinInvasive Species – OVERVIEW