The Regional District Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) is one step closer to their weevil rearing project.
Weevil samples taken from Christina Lake have been confirmed to be the right kind of weevil for eating the invasive Eurasian Milfoil, making it possible to rear and release more of the rice-sized bug to naturally eat the weed.
After employees from Enviro Science Incorporated, a private biology firm from Ohio, took more than one dozen weevil samples out of the lake in August, Grace McGregor, Area C director for the RDKB, has been holding her breath in anticipation of the DNA results being done by the federal government.
Her highest hopes came true when earlier this month the tests confirmed the weevil that lives in Christina Lake is in fact the Euhrychiopsis lecontei (Dietz), commonly known as the Milfoil Weevil. This weevil specifically loves to eat the new growth on the Eurasian Milfoil plants thereby stunting the plant’s growth and propagation.
Eurasian Milfoil is an invasive and alien species that was introduced to the lake, likely by accident. Many lakes throughout the BC interior suffer from an invasion of this species, which chokes out natural vegetation and waterways.
Knowing the right kind of weevil naturally occurs in the lake means it will be easier to get permission to introduce more of them to help control the ever growing milfoil, said McGregor.
"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,” said Alan Stanley, RDKB director of environmental services in an email.
Eventually McGregor would like to see a business created that will raise weevils to release not only into Christina Lake, but other lakes around the province to naturally control the alien species of Eurasian Milfoil.
“I really think the province is going to be with us on this and I hope there will be a pilot project done from here,” said McGregor, adding ideally she’d like to have the pilot project start in the summer of 2013.
Right now milfoil is controlled by having dive teams who manually extract the plant from June until October. This year the RDKB doubled their efforts and budget to two dive teams and $300,000 a year. Those teams worked seven days a week with one overlapping day just to keep the nasty aquatic weed at bay.
“The milfoil removal was very successful and we will continue to have two dive teams until we can figure out if we can rear weevils,” said McGregor.
“I think the people of Christina Lake want the milfoil to be controlled. It won’t ever be eradicated but I think we can get it back into a being a controlled situation. If the weevil is part of that, then they can take over and the price (of removing milfoil) can go down and maybe we can take one dive team off.”